Senate Dems Pledged To Return Donations From FTX Fraudster. They Still Haven’t.

Senators Joe Manchin and Jacky Rosen (Getty Images).
July 21, 2023

Senators Jacky Rosen (D., Nev.) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) pledged to return contributions from an FTX executive who pleaded guilty to making millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions. But campaign finance records show the two vulnerable Democrats have yet to return the money.

Rosen’s campaign said in February it would return a $2,900 contribution from Nishad Singh, the former head of engineering at FTX. A Manchin campaign spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon on June 6 that the campaign planned to return Singh’s money in the wake of his guilty plea earlier this year on fraud and campaign finance violations. He admitted to making millions of dollars of campaign donations—all to Democrats—using money stolen from customers of FTX.

Many Democrats have promised to return donations from Singh and FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who has been charged with fraud and campaign finance violations. Some Democrats—including Sens. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) and Bob Casey (D., Pa.)—have turned Singh’s donations over to the U.S. Marshals Service, which created a fund for FTX victims. But Rosen and Manchin have yet to follow suit, according to campaign finance disclosures released on July 15.

It’s the latest example of Democrats skirting their pledges to return money from FTX executives. Failed Texas gubernatorial candidate Robert Francis "Beto" O’Rourke has kept $100,000 from Bankman-Fried, which he pledged to return last year.

Rosen and Manchin will likely need every penny they can get as they gear up for brutal Senate races next year. The Democrats are expected to spend heavily in their respective states, Nevada and West Virginia, in order to maintain their narrow majority in the Senate.

Their handling of Singh’s donations is in stark contrast to how Republicans in their states have handled contributions from another FTX executive, Ryan Salame. Adam Laxalt, who challenged Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D.), forwarded a $2,900 donation from Salame to the U.S. Marshals Service on May 16. The West Virginia Republican Party disgorged a $3,700 contribution from Salame on April 3. Unlike Singh and Bankman-Fried, Salame has not been charged in the FTX fraud case, though he is reportedly cooperating with prosecutors.

"I wish it was surprising to find out that Senator Manchin has followed the lead of many members of his party in keeping illegal straw donations, but it is not," said Elgine McArdle, chair of the West Virginia Republican Party. "West Virginians have found that they can count on Manchin for one thing: eventually falling in line with other liberals in his Democrat Party."

Sam Brown, an Afghanistan veteran running against Rosen, said the senator’s grip on Bankman-Fried’s donations shows she "abandoned Nevada values for D.C. values long ago."

"Trusting Jacky Rosen to return this money makes as much sense as trusting FTX to manage it. It's been months and she's still holding on to it, and I don't see a D.C. elite like Jacky parting ways with her far-left mega donors anytime soon," Brown told the Free Beacon.

The Rosen and Manchin campaigns have said they were awaiting guidance from the Justice Department on where to send Singh’s donations. A spokesperson for Rosen said in February that Singh’s donations had been set aside and that the campaign was waiting for guidance from the Justice Department on what to do with the money.

A Manchin campaign spokeswoman said the senator's leadership PAC disgorged a contribution from Singh in April, but that the campaign was waiting on additional instructions from the Justice Department.

"The Senate campaign has not yet received similar instructions from DOJ, but we are in contact with them, and expect to receive direction as to where to send the remaining funds shortly," the spokeswoman said.

Neither campaign responded to requests for comment for this story.

Six House Democrats who received contributions from Singh have paid the U.S. Marshals Service, including Rep. Steven Horsford, a Nevada Democrat. He disgorged a contribution from Singh on June 21, campaign records show. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Greg Casar (Texas), Sean Casten (Ill.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), and Kim Schrier (Wash.) have also disgorged Singh’s donations, according to campaign finance records.