Maxine Waters dodges question on FTX, Democrat ties and claims 'both sides' got money

FTX and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried hit with class-action lawsuit Wednesday

With some Democrats deciding to re-commit funds from FTX donations towards charity or other party campaigns after the crypto exchange’s bankruptcy, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told FOX Business she doesn’t "want to get into that" topic.

Waters avoided reporter Hillary Vaughn’s question when asked if Democrats who received campaign cash from FTX should give it back, saying, "Well, I don't want to get into that. As a matter of fact, both sides, Democrats and Republicans, have received donations. So thank you."

The Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, however, did claim that lawmakers will be putting together a hearing to "explore exactly what has taken place" with FTX.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, was a major contributor to Democratic candidates during the midterm election cycle, funneling most of his donations through a little-known political action committee (PAC).


Overall, in 2021 and 2022, Bankman-Fried donated nearly $38 million to various candidates and PACs, mainly giving his cash to Democratic candidates and left-wing groups, according to Federal Election Commission filings (FEC). The majority of his political givings, though, went to the Protect Our Future PAC, a group founded in January that is dedicated to boosting candidates committed to preventing future pandemics.

Maxine Waters at congressional hearing

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told FOX Business' Hillary Vaughn Wednesday that her committee will "explore exactly what has taken place" with FTX. (Getty Images)

Bankman-Fried wired an initial $9 million in February to the PAC shortly after it was created, FEC records showed. He then made three additional donations worth $18 million between March and June, increasing his total contribution to Protect Our Future PAC to $27 million.

The Daily Beast reached out to more than 25 lawmakers that received money and reported that some said they'll give the money to charity. Other congressmen said they spent it to boost other Democratic candidates, and some didn’t reply at all.

Names of Democratic candidates that have received political contributions from FTX include Rep. Jesus Garcia, D-Ill., and Reps.-elect Morgan McGarvey of Kentucky, Maxwell Frost of Florida, Sydney Kamlager of California, Jonathan Jackson of Illinois, Nikki Budzinski of Illinois, Jared Moskowitz of Florida and Rob Menendez Jr. of New Jersey.

FTX Arena in Miami at night

Signage for the FTX Arena, where the Miami Heat basketball team plays, is illuminated on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Miami. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez confirmed on "Cavuto: Coast to Coast" Monday that the arena will be renamed. (AP Newsroom)

On Wednesday, Bankman-Fried was hit with a class-action lawsuit filed by investors alleging he and other high-profile celebrities – such as legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady and NBA star Stephen Curry – violated Florida law and made consumers suffer more than $11 billion in damages.

The lawsuit, which names "Sam Bankman-Fried, Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Shaquille O’Neal, Udonis Haslem, David Ortiz, William Trevor Lawrence, Shohei Ohtani, Naomi Osaka, Lawrence Gene David, and Kevin O’Leary," seeks to make them "responsible for the many billions of dollars in damages they caused Plaintiff and the Classes and to force Defendants to make them whole."

The suit describes the well-known celebrities as "all parties who either controlled, promoted, assisted in, and actively participated in FTX Trading and FTX US (collectively, the ‘FTX Entities’), offer and sale of unregistered securities in the form of yield-bearing accounts (YBAs) to residents of the United States."


The lawsuit was filed in Florida because the defendants, it says, "conduct business in Florida, and/or have otherwise intentionally availed themselves of the Florida consumer market through the promotion, marketing, and sale of FTX’s YBAs in Florida, which constitutes committing a tortious act within the state of Florida."

Last week, Bankman-Fried admitted his fault in a tweet: "I'm sorry. That's the biggest thing," the founder wrote. "I f---ed up, and should have done better."


FOX Business’ Hillary Vaughn, Thomas Catenacci and Greg Norman contributed to this report.