The number one priority of FTX and its former CEO Sam Bankman Fried (SBF) was to get the weakest, least funded, easiest to penetrate, and most capturable regulator put in charge of crypto regulation. That’s because they wanted the form or appearance of regulation without the reality of regulation. That regulator was unquestionably the CFTC, with fewer total employees in 2022 (676) than enforcement cases brought in 2022 (760) by the SEC, which was a feared regulator that crypto and FTX desperately wanted to avoid. That’s why the overriding goal of its near $100 million campaign spending spree and legislative effort was to get the CFTC put in the lead. They were rewarded with two bills, one sponsored by the top Democratic and Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which continued to push the very flawed FTX/SBF endorsed bill even after FTX collapsed!
Proving that the CFTC was the easiest to penetrate, capture, and influence, CFTC Chair Behnam was “a key ally” of FTX and SBF, who went on a hiring spree of former CFTC officials to spearhead their CFTC influence and lobbying campaign (while telling everyone what a great regulator the CFTC was, including after FTX blew up!). Revolving door hires were a key part of FTX/SBF’s strategy because that doesn’t just buy generic knowledge and expertise – it also buys unique inside knowledge, access, influence and, ultimately, favorable outcomes. Former CFTCers not only know and have lots of friends at the CFTC (as well as their direct and personal phone numbers and emails), but also have unique inside knowledge of how the CFTC works and tons of nonpublic information, like the positions current CFTC people have taken, the issues that excite or concern them, the arguments that make the best/worst impressions, the things they like/don’t like to see in applications, and lots more.
While FTX/SBF used the revolving door strategy across all of Washington, the CFTC was the key focus. It appears that at least a dozen CFTC officials spun through the revolving door from the CFTC payroll to FTX, directly on staff or indirectly as lobbyists, lawyers or consultants. The following is the list that Better Markets has complied so far. We are hoping that others will fact check our list and identify additional names to add (and, of course, correct any errors). We will update this list based on any new or additional information.
Former CFTC officials/staff who work/have worked for FTX/SBF:
Mark Wetjen – FTX Head of Policy and Regulatory Strategy, member Board of Directors of LedgerX and FTX US Derivatives, advisor to FTX US on its compliance standards and reporting operations; former CFTC Acting Chair and CFTC Commissioner
Ryne Miller – FTX US general counsel; former CFTC lawyer for former Chair Gensler (WashPost)
Julie L. Schoening – FTX US Derivatives’ Chief Risk Officer; former Economist at CFTC
Brian G. Mulherin – LedgerX (former dba FTX Derivatives US) General Counsel; former associate CFTC Director of CFTC Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) (now Market Participants Division) (MPD)
Matt Kulkin – FTX outside counsel at WilmerHale partner; former CFTC Director DSIO
Chris Giancarlo – FTX consultant/lobbyist; Senior Counsel Willkie Farr; former CFTC Chair (Insider)
Jill Sommers – FTX board member; former CFTC commissioner (WashPost)
Jeff Bandman – FTX consultant/lobbyist; former CFTC senior advisor to CFTC Chair
Jim Newsom – FTX consultant/lobbyist; Delta Strategies; former CFTC Chair
Daniel Gorfine – FTX consultant/lobbyist; Gattaca Horizons LLC; former CFTC Chief Innovation Officer
Charlie Thornton – FTX consultant/lobbyist; T Cap Solutions lobbying firm; multiple former CFTC positions, including most recently Counselor to former CFTC Chair Heath Tarbert (2019-2021)
John Rothenberg – Deputy Risk Officer at LedgerX; former CFTC risk analyst and economist (LinkedIn)
Jim Outen – Chief Economist at LedgerX; former CFTC economist (LinkedIn)