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U.S. Rep. Jesús ‘Chuy’ García steps down from congressional committee that oversaw cryptocurrency industry

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U.S. Representative Jesús “Chuy” García will no longer serve on the influential House Financial Services Committee, his congressional office confirmed Wednesday.

Republicans won majority control of the House in last year’s election, and as a result limited seats for Democratic members to serve on the committee were prioritized based on seniority, said Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli, a spokeswoman for García. .

García, who is also running for mayor of Chicago, has received criticism from his opponents for receiving donations from the now federally indicted cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried while García served on the committee that regulates aspects of the digital assets sector.

Whether members of Congress who have received support from the cryptocurrency industry should serve on the committee has been the subject of debatebut García’s office said the decision had nothing to do with financial backing from Bankman-Fried, which was first reported on Wednesday by Crain’s Chicago Business.

García had received an exclusive committee waiver for the past two terms — meaning he wasn’t building seniority during that time — “and the Democratic leadership made it clear that Republicans would not allow service waivers again.” financial,” Rodriguez-Ciampoli said.

Members assigned to exclusive committees are generally not assigned to additional committees without a waiver granted on a case-by-case basis, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Without any renunciations, García hopes to continue serving on the Transport and Infrastructure Committee, where he has accumulated seniority over the past four years, Rodriguez-Ciampoli said.

García continued to distance himself from Bankman-Fried, saying he never spoke to the former FTX CEO, and instead spoke to his brother, Gabe Bankman-Fried, once about pandemic preparedness.

Bankman-Fried’s political action committee, Protect Our Future, reported it spent $199,855 on June 1 on mailers supporting García’s campaign, federal election records show.

Later that month, the same day García’s congressional campaign received $2,900 from Sam Bankman-Fried, the committee also received a $1,000 donation from PAC Guarding Against Pandemics – a political action committee affiliated with the advocacy organization of the same name founded by Gabe Bankman-Fried to promote future pandemic preparedness.

García’s electoral campaign previously said so donated an amount equivalent to Sam Bankman-Fried’s donation to charity and that the congressman had no involvement in any independent spending campaign.

The New York Times reported late last year that federal authorities are investigating millions of political donations Sam Bankman-Fried made in 2022. García’s mayoral campaign told WBEZ in December that he had not been contacted by federal agents about accepting Sam’s campaign contributions Bankman-Fried.

However, García’s mayoral rivals continued to attack him for his ties to the disgraced businessman. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign aired a new TV spot on Wednesday claiming the congressman “gets close to crypto-criminals.”

State Representative Kam Buckner said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that García’s decision to walk away from the committee shows García “only cares about conflicts of interest when he threatens his campaign.”

Tessa Weinberg covers Chicago government and politics for WBEZ. Follow her @tessa_weinberg.

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Written by Natalia Chi

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