Jan 4, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Democrats go to war over Sam Bankman-Fried ties in Chicago mayoral race

An unlikely figure is making an appearance in the race for Chicago's mayor: FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

Driving the news: Mayor Lori Lightfoot is going after one of her many opponents in a new TV ad out today, shared first with Axios, that highlights Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia's ties to and financial support from Bankman-Fried.

  • Garcia has pledged to donate the $2,900 in direct contributions he received from the disgraced crypto billionaire to charity after the FTX scandal broke.
  • But there's nothing he can do about the cash Bankman-Fried's Protect Our Future PAC independently spent in support of Garcia in his congressional primary last year.

What they’re saying: The Garcia campaign said in a statement that Mayor Lightfoot is “resorting to more lies and desperate attacks. ... Lori knows Chuy has consistently fought corruption. It’s why she begged for his endorsement in 2019.”

The backdrop: Bankman-Fried was arrested last month in the Bahamas and later charged with eight counts of fraud, conspiracy, campaign finance law violations and money laundering. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

  • There's already a crowded field of challengers lining up to try to unseat Mayor Lightfoot in the Feb. 28 contest, including Rep. Garcia and several other Illinois lawmakers and activists.
  • There will be a runoff in April if no one gets 50% of the vote next month.

The big picture: Dozens of Democrats and Republicans received support from Bankman-Fried last cycle, as he made his way through Washington to try to garner favor with lawmakers.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to note that the general election for the Chicago mayoral race is on Feb. 28th. An earlier version said it was a Democratic primary on Feb. 23rd.

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