News Story

Stabenow hasn’t returned FTX funds, but donated $25K to nonprofit

Stabenow campaign records show one donation in 2023: $25,000 to the Historical Society of Michigan.

In December, after a CapCon report that Sen. Debbie Stabenow had taken nearly $56,000 in donations from four FTX employees, including founder Samuel Bankman-Fried, Stabenow told The Detroit News she would donate the funds to a local charity.

Federal Election Commission records show only one donation from Stabenow’s campaign committee in the time since. The senator gave $25,000 to the Historical Society of Michigan.

That donation was made on March 24, records show.

The $25,000 Stabenow donated is $1,660 short of the $26,600 donated by Bankman-Fried. And it does not account for the remaining $29,200 donated by FTX employees Mark Wetjen ($11,600), Ryne Miller ($5,800), and Zachary Dexter ($11,600).

After taking the donations, Stabenow took the lead role on a bill that would have centralized the world of “de-fi,” decentralized finance, a move favored by crypto currency advocates. After FTX’s bankruptcy in November, the bill got a hearing, but never a full Senate vote. Stabenow has not reintroduced the bill in the 118th Congress.

In the time since, Stabenow has announced she’ll retire in 2024 rather than run for another term.

In February, the bankruptcy receivers running FTX asked Stabenow and other politicians who received donations to return them. The company warned that donating the funds to a third party, such as a local charity, could bring legal trouble to that third party.

“Recipients are cautioned that making a payment or donation to a third party (including a charity) in the amount of any payment received from a FTX Contributor does not prevent the FTX Debtors from seeking recovery from the recipient or any subsequent transferee,” FTX said at the time.

“The donation from Stabenow for U.S. Senate was not related to FTX or Samuel Bankman-Fried,” Larry Wagenaar, executive director and CEO of the Historical Society of Michigan, told CapCon.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.