Senator who spearheaded SBF-backed crypto bill to retire

Quick Take

  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will not seek reelection.
  • Stabenow was an author and advocate for a bill that former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried aggressively lobbied for. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will not seek reelection in 2024. 

“Inspired by a new generation of leaders, I have decided to pass the torch," she said in an announcement, with plans to serve out the rest of her term, which will end in early 2025. It's a seat she has held for over two decades. 

Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the primary regulator for bitcoin in the U.S. In that capacity, Stabenow co-authored legislation that would expand the CFTC's jurisdiction over crypto exchanges and spot markets; the bill had the support of both former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and current CFTC Chair Rostin Behnam, but became a lightning rod for decentralized finance advocates.  

After FTX's bankruptcy the fate of that bill fell into question, due to how much the now-indicted Bankman-Fried tied himself to the bill. In addition to frequent trips to Washington to support the bill, Bankman-Fried also donated $26,600 to Stabenow's re-election campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data. 

Stabenow and her coauthor, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., as well as Behnam, have said the bill remains necessary to tighten rules around crypto exchanges following the FTX collapse. The Democrat and her Republican counterpart on the committee, Boozman, pledged last month to rework and reintroduce the bill during this Congress. 

Disclaimer: Beginning in 2021, Michael McCaffrey, the former CEO and majority owner of The Block, took a series of loans from founder and former FTX and Alameda CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. McCaffrey resigned from the company in December 2022 after failing to disclose those transactions.

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