REPORT: Progressive Activist Tied To Sam Bankman-Fried Allegedly Had Backchannel To Biden Officials

Photo Credit Sean McElwee, Twitter

James Lynch Contributor
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Prominent progressive activist Sean McElwee allegedly communicated with journalists and Biden officials through an open Slack channel, according to Politico.

McElwee allegedly had a “rolling conversation” with Biden administration officials and high profile reporters during his time at Data for Progress, a progressive polling firm McElwee founded, per the outlet.

Data for Progress recently fired McElwee over his close relationship with disgraced former crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried and allegations that he was gambling on the results of the 2022 midterms, according to New York Magazine.

McElwee abruptly shut down the Slack channel the day after Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Politico reported. He began negotiating his exit from Data for Progress less than a week later, the outlet added.

Federal prosecutors indicted Bankman-Fried on Dec. 13 on eight counts of fraud and conspiracy, including wire fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. The charges stem from allegations that Bankman-Fried misused customer funds at FTX and its sister hedge fund, Alameda Research.

According to the indictment, Bankman-Fried and “one or more other conspirators agreed to and did make corporate contributions to candidates and committees in the Southern District of New York that were reported in the name of another person,” violating campaign finance laws against straw donors.

McElwee allegedly told a friend at a July party that campaign finance laws were “dumb” and “violated his First Amendment rights,” Politico reported. Campaign finance records show McElwee donated $70,000 to Democratic campaigns in the 2022 cycle.

He repeatedly donated to New York Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres, a crypto industry and Bankman-Fried ally. He also donated multiple times to Guarding Against Pandemics, a crypto PAC run by Bankman-Fried’s brother, Gabe.

McElwee first gained attention for leading the #AbolishICE movement, a progressive campaign against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called for ICE to be abolished during his 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.

Bankman-Fried was released from custody Thursday on a $250 million bond following his Wednesday extradition from the Bahamas to stand trial in the U.S. (RELATED: ProPublica And Vox Are Returning Sam Bankman-Fried’s Funds)

The disgraced crypto entrepreneur donated $39 million to Democrats and small sums of money to Republicans in the 2022 midterm election cycle, according to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets. He was the sixth largest midterm donor and Democrats’ second largest donor behind billionaire financier George Soros.

Bankman-Fried’s net worth peaked at $26.5 billion and was estimated at $17.2 billion in September 2022. By the end of November, he said he was down to less than $100,000 in his bank account, Axios reported.