Disgraced crypto kingpin and his mother conspired to make illegal campaign contributions, lawsuit alleges
First it was Hillary Clinton, Andrew Gillum, and the Black Lives Matter Foundation. Now add disgraced crypto kingpin Sam Bankman-Fried to Democratic superlawyer Marc Elias’s list of controversial clients.
Mind the Gap, a political action committee founded by Bankman-Fried’s mother, has paid Elias Law Group nearly $30,000 since February 2022, according to campaign finance disclosures. A lawsuit filed this week alleges that Bankman-Fried and his mother, Stanford Law professor Barbara Fried, conspired to make illegal campaign contributions to Mind the Gap.
Bankman-Fried’s former company, FTX, revealed the scheme in a lawsuit against Fried, in which the law professor is accused of aiding and abetting her son’s fraud against the cryptocurrency exchange.
It’s the latest in a string of controversial clients for Elias, who as an attorney for failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton commissioned an infamous dossier that falsely accused the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Elias’s firm has represented the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, a left-wing group accused of misappropriating millions of dollars in donations. Elias also represented former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D.) in a 21-count federal fraud case.
It is unclear what services Elias Law Group provided Mind the Gap, which Fried launched in 2018 to support Democratic campaigns. The law firm provides an array of campaign services to its clients, including campaign finance issues, ballot recount initiatives, and election-related legal challenges.
Elias Law Group has represented Mind the Group amid Bankman-Fried’s high-profile fraud case. Bankman-Fried was indicted in December on federal charges for defrauding FTX customers out of billions of dollars. Prosecutors alleged that Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars from FTX customers to fund his lavish lifestyle and make political donations to boost his personal profile and that of his company. Bankman-Fried gave $40 million to Democratic campaigns, including $5 million to a political action committee that supported Joe Biden in 2020. He visited the White House at least four times last year, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Fried, who resigned from Mind the Gap after FTX declared bankruptcy in November, has not been charged in connection with her son’s activities. But FTX accused her in the lawsuit of orchestrating a potentially illegal scheme to funnel political contributions from her son to Mind the Gap. In April 2021, Fried advised Bankman-Fried and his FTX colleague, Nishad Singh, to make a $1 million contribution in Singh’s name to Mind the Gap, according to emails cited in the lawsuit.
Fried said she wanted to conceal her son’s involvement because “we don’t want to create the impression that funding [Meet the Gap] is a family affair, as opposed to a collective effort by many people.”
Bankman-Fried and Singh both agreed to the proposal, and a donation in Singh’s name was made to Mind the Gap on April 13, 2021. Singh has pleaded guilty to fraud and campaign finance violations.
Elias Law Group did not respond to a request for comment.