There’s a great line in the hilarious movie “History of the World: Part 1” by Mel Brooks, when he, as King Louie XVI of France, would do something that would get a normal person in trouble then turn to the camera and say, “It’s good to be the king.” In that movie, as with being that monarch in France at that time, it was only “good to be the king” for a while, then it was exceedingly not good to be the king, as Louis ended up losing his head. In modern times, it’s good to be the king again…as long as you’re the right kind of king who curried favor with the correct politicians – namely Democrats.
I’m speaking, of course, about Sam Bankman-Fried, for former CEO of crypto currency company FTX and either one of the largest rip-off artists in history or biggest morons who managed to swindle, one way or another, billions of dollars from a lot investors. The extent of his corruption and/or incompetence is not yet known, which is why there are hearings on Capitol Hill being put together right now. Most investigations will take place next year because, in part, the House of Representatives isn’t really interested in finding out what happened.
Why? Because it appears to have favored Democrats. Remember that “normal person” I was talking about? Bankman-Fried isn’t that person, he’s the one with the friends in high places who gets protected – the guy who calls in the chits he spent tens of millions of dollars spreading around.
The recipient of a big pile of those chits, and buckets of cash from Bankman-Fried is California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She’s Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, exactly the committee that should be all over this FTX scandal. But Waters is an old hand at the DC game, and she knows the money Bankman-Fried and his cronies tossed around landed all over her fellow Democrats, including more than $300,000 of it on members of her committee. Waters is nothing if not a partisan hack; anything that makes Democrats look bad is bad for business. So it wasn’t really a shock this week when, after announcing her committee would hold a hearing on the collapse of FTX in the lame-duck session, it came out that she has no plans to subpoena Sammy. Honestly, if Congress doesn’t try to hold this guy accountable to some degree, what’s to stop others from being reckless themselves? Bankman-Fried may be an outlier but without accountability the entire market could lose the trust of the public and collapse, costing more people even more money. Don’t you think Congress would have a desire to at least try to prevent that from happening?
What’s the point of talking about someone when you can compel that person to talk, or at least take the 5th? Why talk to the mailroom guy when the CEO is available? The horse’s ass doesn’t care to hear straight from the horse’s mouth, apparently.
It’s probably because she doesn’t want to know what the CEO has to say when directly questioned by Republicans. More to the point, she doesn’t want the public to know what he has to say in response to direct questions from Republicans because it will be nothing good for Democrats.
If the hearing can be held without Bankman-Fried, when Republicans take over next Congress and hold hearings on the subject, as they will, with Bankman-Friend compelled to participate, which they will do, Democrats can dismiss it as “old news.” It’s right out of the Clinton playbook – delay as long as possible, then when finally forced to comply by a court order (or in this case a Congressional subpoena) dismiss everything as having already been covered, especially when it hasn’t been.
This ain’t “Auntie Maxine’s” first rodeo, she’s been corrupt for, well, ever. I’ve written about her grift before – representing a district she doesn’t live in (she’s far too rich to live in a district represented by her), she squeaks by with almost 80 percent of the vote. That means she has no need to campaign in any meaningful way, but still raises a ton of lobbyist money (especially from the banking industry she oversees) and uses that money to hire family members to “work” for the campaign she doesn’t need to run. And wouldn’t you know it, she pays really well…especially to her own daughter (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars). “Perfectly legal corruption,” as a named it back in 2018.
You can see why Waters might not want the world to know what she and her friends have been up to while “doing the people’s business.”
Maybe she’ll wise up and bow to the pressure from the people Bankman-Fried ripped off to put him under oath (he’s been talkative up to this point, but only with media types where there is no risk of perjury and the ability to later say he was lying when he implicated himself in criminal activities). It’s unclear if that kind of pressure can even be exerted over someone who has zero reason to give a damn, has no risk of being held accountable by their constituents, and has never been afraid to spit in the face of what’s right. You don’t amass a net worth reported to be $10 million on a salary of $185,000 by playing it on the straight and narrow. Maybe the Financial Services Committee should forget Sam Bankman-Fried and subpoena her!
That won’t happen, next year or ever, because it’s not only good to be the king, it not too shabby to be the queen either.