Michael Shellenberger | Dec. 6, 2022
In the spring of 2022, Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, made Chicago its U.S. headquarters, drawing the applause of the city’s mayor.
“This is a mechanism and a tool to bring traditionally underrepresented and ignored populations into the world of crypto so they can take ownership and control of their own financial destiny,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opulent, 9,000 square foot FTX headquarters in May. “I think the sky is the limit.”
The reason FTX.US chose Chicago was, in part, to use the city to pilot a cash giveaway program aimed at poor African American residents. FTX was essentially contributing to two ”guaranteed basic income” programs, one run by a nonprofit called Equity And Transformation (EAT), and the other by the city.
Ostensibly a charitable exercise, the program, which FTX also ran in Florida, expanded the market for FTX’s app, and appears to have been a crucial part of a public relations and lobbying effort aimed at winning the support of Democrats for FTX’s agenda to effectively regulate itself.