Failed Texas Democrat gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke returned a $1 million campaign donation by FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried before the company's scandal-ridden collapse, according to campaign officials.
The campaign told the Texas Tribune on Tuesday they were "taken by surprise" at the size of the "unsolicited" check it received on Oct. 11, and returned it Nov. 4, days before the midterm election.
"This contribution was unsolicited and the campaign's upcoming [Texas Ethics Commission] report will show that it was returned back on Nov. 4, prior to the news stories that would later come out about the donor," O'Rourke campaign spokesman Chris Evans told the news outlet.
Evans said O'Rourke, who lost to incumbent GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in the general election Nov. 8, had not talked with Bankman-Fried before getting the donation, unlike other large donors.
FTX, now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice, filed for bankruptcy protection Nov. 9 after a series of tweets regarding the company and its sister, FTX-founded crypto hedge fund Alameda Research, led to a run on the cryptocurrency token draining the company's capital value, Cointelegraph reported.
"Today, I filed FTX, FTX US, and Alameda for voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S.," Bankman-Fried said in a Nov. 11 post on Twitter. "'I'm really sorry, again, that we ended up here. Hopefully things can find a way to recover. Hopefully this can bring some amount of transparency, trust, and governance to them. Ultimately, hopefully, it can be better for customers."
The fall of FTX took the cryptocurrency world by storm as it saw one of its brightest stars in Bankman-Fried financially devastated quickly, and one of the "most stable" cryptocurrency companies in a catastrophic free-fall, The New York Times reported Nov. 11.
"Here we are, with one of the richest people in the world, his net worth dropping to zero, his business dropping to zero," Jared Ellias, a bankruptcy professor at Harvard Law School told the Times. "The velocity of this failure is just unbelievable."
Although O'Rourke returned the $1 million donation, he also got $100,000 from FTX Director of Engineering Nishad Singh, the Tribune reported, saying the campaign has not yet commented if that donation was also turned back.
Bankman-Fried also donated heavily to Democrat President Joe Biden in 2020, giving him more than $5 million to defeat GOP incumbent President Donald Trump, the report said.
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