A filing in FTX’s bankruptcy proceedings is shedding light on the true extent of the crypto-trading powerhouse’s influence-peddling operation. Last week, FTX filed its creditor matrix, a document that lists former vendors and investors to the company.
The list includes nearly a dozen public relations experts — specialists who generate positive spin in the media on behalf of clients — as well as political consultants, think tanks, and trade groups.
Sometimes, the money went directly to political operations; Majority Forward, a dark-money group designed to elect Senate Democrats, received cash. In some cases, the hired guns, such as PR firms, were paid directly for their services. In others, the groups that received donations maintain that they are independent, but had interests aligned with FTX.
The filing, for instance, listed a donation to the Center for a New American Security, a prominent national security-focused think tank in Washington, D.C., that has worked to shape crypto regulations.
The filing offered a look under the hood of FTX’s intricate maze of influence. On the heels of its meteoric rise as a crypto exchange, FTX quickly began to spend extraordinary amounts of money to buy prestige and friends in high places. Now that the firm stands accused of siphoning off billions of its investors’ dollars — with its disgraced founder Sam Bankman-Fried charged with fraud in the matter — increased scrutiny is falling on powerbrokers’ dealings with FTX.
The relationships of many of the entities listed in the bankruptcy filing and FTX were already known — the company complied with lobbying disclosures for some of its consultants — but the creditor matrix shows the crypto giant also retained several previously undisclosed professional influence peddlers.
One seasoned political hand tied to FTX without any disclosures is former New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. His firm, Cojo Strategies, is featured in the FTX vendor list. Another is Susan McCue, a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has advised many Senate Democrats and played a role in the leadership of several Democratic super PACs and dark-money outfits. Her firm, Message Global, is in the filing.
Other consulting firms with a finger on the pulse of power are sprawled through the creditor matrix, which runs over 116 pages. Another creditor, Patomak Global Partners, a firm that specializes in influencing financial regulators, is led by Paul Atkins, a former Securities and Exchange commissioner. Atkins’s company touts its roster of former government officials as providing “a telescope to anticipate trends on the horizon to help position our clients for long-term success.” (Neither Johnson, McCue, nor Patomak responded to requests for comment.)…