The FTX Arena logo is seen where the Miami Heat NBA basketball team plays on Nov. 12, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of several candidates who received campaign contributions from disgraced cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who was arrested this week and charged with violating securities and campaign finance laws.
Murkowski, a Republican, was quick to donate the funds soon after FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange founded by Bankman-Fried, filed for bankruptcy amid controversy.
Murkowski received $5,800 from Bankman-Fried in August. She also received $5,400 from the executive’s younger brother, Gabriel Bankman-Fried, and $2,900 from Ryan Salame, co-CEO of FTX.
Murkowski’s campaign manager Nate Adams said earlier this week that all of the contributions were donated to Storyknife Writers Retreat in Homer “after the FTX news first broke a few weeks ago.”
Sam Bankman-Fried testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill Dec. 8, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
FTX entered bankruptcy filings on Nov. 11, and Murkowski made a donation of $14,100 to Storyknife Writers Retreat in Homer on Nov. 22, according to Federal Elections Commissions records. The donation was made weeks before Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas earlier this week.
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Adams did not provide a specific reason for choosing Storyknife as the recipient of the $14,100 contribution. One of the cabins at the Storyknife retreat is named after Carol Murkowski Sturgulewski, Lisa Murkowski’s older sister, who is a writer and editor.
Democrats announced this week they would seek to return more than $2 million from Bankman-Fried, who had given around $40 million to candidates and political groups, mostly aligned with Democrats. A small amount of that money had ended up in the account of the Alaska Democratic Party.
But U.S. Rep Mary Peltola was not among the numerous Democratic candidates who received direct campaign contributions from Bankman-Fried or his associates, according to Peltola’s campaign manager.
“We scoured our database and we saw no donations from (Bankman-Fried) or any people whose names we would recognize as leaders (of FTX),” said Anton McParland with Peltola’s campaign. “It’s our understanding that money was donated to various national Democratic operations, (but) we don’t believe that any of that money was directed towards efforts in Alaska.”
“I’m sure that we would have just given the money back, but it was nice not to have to get to that point of decision making,” McParland added.
While the Alaska Democratic Party did not receive any direct contributions from Bankman-Fried, the party did receive a transfer from the Democratic National Committee that included a contribution of approximately $9,750 from Bankman-Fried, according to Alaska Democratic Party director Lindsay Kavanaugh.
“The Alaska Democratic Party will continue to work with the DNC to return the funds and has no further knowledge of this issue,” Kavanaugh said in a statement.
Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The Associated Press and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at
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