Beto O’Rourke Returned $1 Million Donation From Former Crypto Billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried

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James Lynch Contributor
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Beto O’Rourke’s Texas gubernatorial campaign returned a $1 million donation from former crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried four days before election day, according to the Texas Tribune.

The O’Rourke campaign decided to return Bankman-Fried’s donation on Nov. 4 and the decision was reportedly unrelated to the former crypto billionaire’s business scandals, a spokesman told the Texas Tribune. The spokesman said the campaign chose to return the funds because O’Rourke had not talked to Bankman-Fried before the large donation, which was unsolicited and took them by surprise.

During the fundraising cycle spanning July 1 to Sept. 29, Bankman-Fried was the campaign’s top donor with the $1 million contribution, Texas Tribune reported at the time. O’Rourke’s campaign raised $77 million overall and received seven figure sums from three other donors, including Democratic megadonor George Soros, the Tribune noted. At one point, he broke a four month Texas fundraising record, hauling in $27.6 million over four months, his campaign announced in July.

O’Rourke ended up losing by 11 points to incumbent Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, his third campaign defeat since 2018. He was a congressman from Texas’ 16th district from 2013 to 2019.

Abbott tweeted on Nov. 16 that, “candidates who received this tainted money should return it so that innocent customers of FTX can get some of their money back,” after calling out O’Rourke for receiving funds from Bankman-Fried.

Bankman-Fried had been a major Democratic party donor before his crypto empire collapsed earlier this month, giving nearly $37 million to Democrats in the 2022 midterm cycle, watchdog group OpenSecrets recorded. He was the sixth largest donor in the midterm elections and also contributed to various Republican candidates, records show. (RELATED: Crypto Firm BlockFi Files For Bankruptcy In Wake Of FTX Collapse)

Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange FTX was once valued at $32 billion before it collapsed in the wake of a report from crypto website CoinDesk about the alleged misuse of customer funds, according to CNBC.