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posted by janrinok on Sunday March 03, @12:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the sinking-feeling-aka-pick-your-preferred-punishment dept.

Convicted FTX fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded for a lenient prison sentence in a court filing yesterday, saying that he isn't motivated by greed and "is already being punished."

Bankman-Fried requested a sentence of 63 to 78 months, or 5.25 to 6.5 years. Because of "Sam's charitable works and demonstrated commitment to others, a sentence that returns Sam promptly to a productive role in society would be sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes of sentencing," the court filing said.

[...] The filing urged the court to "reject the PSR's barbaric proposal" of 100 years, saying that such sentences should only be for "heinous conduct" like terrorism and child sexual abuse.

The founder and ex-CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Bankman-Fried was convicted on seven charges with a combined maximum sentence of 110 years after a monthlong trial in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The charges included wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, commodities fraud, and money laundering.

[...] Kaplan said before the trial that SBF "could be looking at a very long sentence" if convicted. After the conviction, law professors were quoted as saying that Bankman-Fried's sentence was likely to be at least 20 or 25 years and conceivably as much as 50 years.

[...] "Sam was not predatory. He did not set out to prey on the elderly, the unsophisticated, or implement a plan to poach pension assets. His conduct falls far lower on the culpability scale," the filing said. He also "never intended to cause loss for the purpose of his own personal gain," his legal team said.

Bankman-Fried's conduct should be characterized as "risk shifting," the filing said. Risk-shifting "offenses are not specifically intended to cause loss. Instead, they shift the risk of any potential loss from the defendant (or from others involved in the criminal undertaking) to a third party, such as the victim of the offense."

According to Bankman-Fried's legal team, this makes his offenses similar in severity to "false statements for the purpose of obtaining a bank loan that is intended to be repaid. Such offenses are generally less culpable than those where loss is specifically intended."

[...] Bankman-Fried's sentencing submission was accompanied by letters of support from his parents and others. His mother, Barbara Fried, wrote that "Sam is the first person we would call if we needed an angel of mercy in a pinch," and that he "lived an exemplary life in every way prior to the events that brought FTX down."

Related Stories

The Hunt for the FTX Thieves Has Begun 16 comments

Cryptocurrency has always offered a strange mix of temptations and challenges for anyone trying to steal it. As digital cash, held in multibillion-dollar sums on hackable, internet-connected networks, it presents a lucrative target. But once it's stolen, the blockchains that almost every cryptocurrency is built on make it possible to follow that money's every movement and, very often, to identify the thieves. So after a massive heist pulled nearly half a billion dollars worth of funds out of the already collapsing FTX cryptocurrency exchange yesterday, the world's crypto tracers are now closely tracking where that loot ends up—and looking for any clues that reveal the thief to be an FTX insider or just an opportunistic hacker.

On Friday, hours after the major cryptocurrency exchange FTX had filed for bankruptcy in the wake of its epic, 10-figure collapse, FTX's remaining funds were drained of more than $663 million worth of cryptocurrency, much of which appears to have been stolen. "FTX has been hacked," wrote an administrator in FTX's Telegram channel. "FTX apps are malware. Delete them." [...]

[...] "We're definitely watching the movements of these funds," says Chris Janczewski, the head of investigations at TRM Labs and a former special agent at the IRS's criminal investigations division. "This potential thief has hundreds of millions of dollars. But it's like they went into a bank, took as much cash as they could carry, and then the dye packs went off. They've got all this money, but now everyone knows it's connected to this bank robbery. What can you actually do with it?"

FTX Lacked “Accurate List” of Bank Accounts, Failed at Basic Bookkeeping 32 comments

Employee expenses were approved by posting emoji in Slack channels, DMs:

Sam Bankman-Fried's failed FTX business empire misused customer funds and lacked trustworthy financial statements or any real internal controls, according to the new boss of the collapsed $32 billion crypto exchange.

John Ray III, a veteran insolvency professional who oversaw the liquidation of Enron, said in a US court filing on Thursday that FTX was the worst case of corporate failure that he had seen in his more than 40-year career.

"Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here," he wrote.

The statement underlined the chaos and mismanagement at the heart of what was once a leading crypto industry player with deep ties in Washington DC. The demise of Bankman-Fried's FTX empire has plunged crypto markets into a crisis. Bankman-Fried did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new filing.

Ray said he had found at FTX international, FTX US and Bankman-Fried's Alameda Research trading company "compromised systems integrity," "faulty regulatory oversight," and a "concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated, and potentially compromised individuals."

Sam Bankman-Fried Arrested in Bahamas, Charged With "Massive" Crypto Fraud in US 17 comments

Sam Bankman-Fried arrested in Bahamas, charged with "massive" crypto fraud in US

FTX co-founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas yesterday and will face charges from the US Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and one other US government agency. Damian Williams, the Justice Department's US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), announced that "Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the US Government, based on a sealed indictment filed by the SDNY."

The SEC announced today that it charged Bankman-Fried "with orchestrating a scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX Trading" and that investigations into "other securities law violations and into other entities and persons relating to the alleged misconduct are ongoing." The SEC said Bankman-Fried is also facing charges from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a US agency that regulates derivatives markets.

Germany Wants Countries to Regulate the Crypto Industry After the FTX and Bankman-Fried Debacle 65 comments

Germany wants countries to regulate the crypto industry after the FTX and Bankman-Fried debacle- Technology News, Firstpost:

Germany's top regulator this week called for global regulation of the cryptocurrency industry to protect consumers, prevent money laundering and preserve financial stability.

Mark Branson, the president of Germany's financial market regulator BaFin, also known as the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority of Germany, said a that hands-off approach that would "just let the industry grow as a playground for grownups" was the wrong tactic.

"We've seen the self-regulated world. It will not work," Branson told journalists in Frankfurt on Tuesday evening.

Branson was speaking hours after U.S. prosecutors accused Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, of misappropriating billions of dollars and violating campaign laws in what has been described as potentially one of America's biggest financial frauds.

[...] Regulation of the industry has been loose and patchwork at best. Germany requires licences for banks to deal with cryptocurrency.

[...] The European Union has been working on a new Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation (MiCA) that some, including European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, say would need to be broadened out in a future iteration and branded "MiCA 2".

Original Submission

Senators are Hopping Mad and Demanding Answers for the CryptoCurrency Collapse 26 comments

Senators Are Hopping Mad and Demanding Answers for the Crypto Collapse:

Lawmakers from opposing parties disagreed over who and what was truly to blame for a devastating crypto crash that left customers collectively burnout out of billions in losses during a Wednesday Senate Banking Committee hearing. While Democratic lawmakers and crypto skeptics warned of the dangers presented by a lack of meaningful oversight measures, Republicans pushed back, with some blaming part of the recent tumultuous chaos on the Securities and Exchange Commission's alleged failure to use regulatory powers already at its disposal.

[...] The lawmakers questioned three expert witnesses who held widely divergent views on cryptocurrency. Linda Jeng, the chief global regulatory officer and general counsel for major crypto advocacy group Crypto Council for Innovation, largely went to bat for the industry, while Duke Financial Economics Center Policy Director Lee Reiners and Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Yesha Yadav have spoken more critically about crypto companies.

In her testimony, Jeng, who testified under her personal capacity as an academic and researcher, tried to separate the broader crypto space from specific bad actors like FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried, and called for a light-handed, nuanced regulatory approach. Jeng said it was important for crypto firms to have clear rules of the road dictating what they can and can't do, but cautioned against overly aggressive restrictions. In addition to rules, Jeng said it was important for the U.S. to adopt a more coherent national strategy around crypto to avoid falling too far behind the E.U., U.K, and others.

"This is a key moment for our transition to a digital economy," Jeng said in her written testimony. "We are at a decision point where how we build our legal and regulatory foundation will determine our digital future for decades to come.

SBF Says “Dishonesty and Unfair Dealing” Aren't Fraud, Seeks to Dismiss Charges 22 comments

Late Monday, legally embroiled FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried moved to dismiss the majority of criminal charges lobbed against him by the United States government after his cryptocurrency exchange went bankrupt in 2022.

In documents filed in a Manhattan federal court, lawyers from the law firm Cohen & Gresser LLP shared Bankman-Fried's first official legal defense. Lawyers accused the US of a "troubling" and "classic rush to judgment," claiming that the government didn't even wait to receive "millions of documents" and "other evidence" against Bankman-Fried before "improperly seeking" to turn "civil and regulatory issues into federal crimes."

After FTX's collapse last year, federal prosecutors acted quickly to intervene, within a month alleging that Bankman-Fried was stealing billions in customer funds, defrauding investors, committing bank and wire fraud, providing improper loans, misleading lenders, transmitting money without a license, making illegal campaign contributions, bribing China officials, and other crimes. Through it all, Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty. Now, in his motion to dismiss, Bankman-Fried has requested an oral argument to "fight these baseless charges" and "clear his name." He's asking the court to dismiss 10 out of 13 charges, arguing that federal prosecutors have failed to substantiate most of their claims.

"The Government's haste and apparent willingness to proceed without having all the relevant facts and information has produced an indictment that is not only improperly brought but legally flawed and should be dismissed," Bankman-Fried's lawyers argued in one of several memos filed yesterday.

Original Submission

Sam Bankman-Fried Testifies, Says He “Skimmed Over” FTX Terms of Service 7 comments

Sam Bankman-Fried took the stand in his criminal trial today in an attempt to avoid decades in prison for alleged fraud at cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its affiliate, Alameda Research.

Providing testimony has been called a risky move for Bankman-Fried by many legal observers. After answering questions posted by his own lawyers, Bankman-Fried will have to face cross-examination from federal prosecutors. But after three weeks in which US government attorneys laid out their case, including testimony from former FTX and Alameda executives, Bankman-Fried's legal team announced yesterday that he would take the stand.

Today's testimony was unusual because US District Judge Lewis Kaplan sent the jury home for the day to conduct a hearing on whether certain parts of his testimony are admissible. "That means Bankman-Fried will give some of his testimony to the judge without the jury present. The judge will then decide whether Bankman-Fried is allowed to say the same testimony in front of a jury," The Wall Street Journal wrote in its live coverage. The trial is not being streamed via audio or video.
"Bankman-Fried said he believed that under FTX's terms of service, sister firm Alameda was allowed in many circumstances to borrow funds from the exchange," the WSJ wrote. Bankman-Fried reportedly said the terms of service were written by FTX lawyers and that he only "skimmed" certain parts.

"I read parts in depth. Parts I skimmed over," Bankman-Fried reportedly said after Kaplan asked if he read the entire terms of service document.

Sassoon asked Bankman-Fried if he had "any conversations with lawyers about Alameda spending customer money that was deposited into FTX bank accounts," according to Bloomberg's live coverage. "I don't recall any conversations that were contemporaneous and phrased that way," Bankman-Fried answered.
One decision for Kaplan is whether Bankman-Fried will be allowed to blame FTX lawyers when the jury is back in the courtroom. As we previously wrote, this is called an "advice-of-counsel defense" in which SBF could argue that he sought advice from company lawyers, received advice that his conduct was legal, and "relied on that advice in good faith."

Before the trial began, Kaplan issued an order that prohibited Bankman-Fried from using the advice-of-counsel defense in opening statements. But Kaplan left the door open for SBF to use the advice-of-counsel defense "on a case-by-case basis" as the trial continues.

Original Submission

Sam Bankman-Fried Found Guilty in FTX Crypto Fraud Case 28 comments

Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty in FTX crypto fraud case:

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been found guilty on all seven counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering following more than two weeks of testimony in one of the highest-profile financial crime cases in years.

The 31-year-old former cryptocurrency billionaire was convicted of two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, charges that each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He was also convicted of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which each carry a five-year maximum sentence.

"Sam Bankman-Fried perpetrated one of the biggest frauds in American history, a multibillion-dollar scheme designed to make him the king of crypto," Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a news briefing following the verdict. "Here's the thing: the cryptocurrency industry might be new. The players like Sam Bankman-Fried might be new. This kind of fraud, this kind of corruption, is as old as time, and we have no patience for it."

The MIT graduate steadfastly maintained his innocence since his arrest late last year after the startling implosion of FTX, the crypto exchange he co-founded, amid an $8 billion shortfall in funds and allegations he had used customer money to prop up his struggling hedge fund, Alameda Research.

[...] Defense attorneys sought to portray Bankman-Fried as a math nerd who made poor management decisions at FTX, but who had nothing criminal in mind while building his crypto empire.

In the end, it was perhaps the hubristic display during Bankman-Fried's own testimony that bore the most weight, and did the most damage. Under the prosecution's cross-examination, Bankman-Fried said "over 140 times" that he couldn't remember a document, conversation or other key details. The government said, again and again, that was because "he was lying."

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03, @01:05AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03, @01:05AM (#1347155)
    HaHaHa … No
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by khallow on Sunday March 03, @01:50AM (7 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 03, @01:50AM (#1347157) Journal

    Bankman-Fried's conduct should be characterized as "risk shifting," the filing said. Risk-shifting "offenses are not specifically intended to cause loss. Instead, they shift the risk of any potential loss from the defendant (or from others involved in the criminal undertaking) to a third party, such as the victim of the offense."

    Risk shifting can be quite egregious. For example, back in the 1990s, Enron engaged in a huge amount of risk shifting. They hid somewhere around $11+ billion in losses in shell companies. But it was rationalized on the basis that the need would be temporary with their awesome business savvy paying that back in the future. Which never happened. Here, I have to say that Bankman-Fried's sentence does appear excessive. I would favor in the neighborhood of 25 years in prison myself. That seems in line with Enron sentences.

    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03, @02:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03, @02:02AM (#1347159)

      Ah, but he was dealing in cryptocurrency. You're forgetting the "you must not tread on the toes of the rich bankers" penalty.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Sunday March 03, @03:40AM (2 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Sunday March 03, @03:40AM (#1347169)

      The prosecutors will typically ask for the maximum allowed penalty under the laws broken (rigorous advocacy for the people), and the convicted defendant's lawyers will typically ask for the minimum plausible penalty under the laws broken (rigorous advocacy for their client), and the judge will probably proceed to ignore both of them and go with sentencing guidelines and/or what other judges have done with other people who faced similar charges.

      So I'm not seeing anything either unusual or egregious about this situation.

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 2) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Sunday March 03, @07:29PM (1 child)

        by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Sunday March 03, @07:29PM (#1347241)

        The long sentence wasn't from the prosecutors, it was from the probation department.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03, @08:05PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03, @08:05PM (#1347248)

          The long sentence wasn't from the prosecutors, it was from the probation department.

          Where did you get that idea? Federal prison sentences are imposed by Federal judges based on guidelines [PDF] [] promulgated by the US Sentencing Commission.

          More information about that here [].

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Sunday March 03, @03:14PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday March 03, @03:14PM (#1347210)

      >That seems in line with Enron sentences.

      And the question really is: were the Enron sentences fair? After all, they fraudulently lost the equivalent of some 5000 total life earnings and only about 21 were convicted. If they really serve the whole 25 years, I might call that "fair enough": virtually ensuring they won't be able to do it again when they are released, but if they're out in six for "good behavior" (or only sentenced to six years like the CFO) they very well might get up to the same games, whether in their own names or as "consultants" for others, upon release.

      If you were to go out and burn down 250 of your farming neighbors' homesteads while they were all away at church, salt the earth and slaughter all the livestock so they had nothing of value but their Sunday best clothes afterwards, what should your sentence be?

      Should your sentence be any less if you only do 1% of that damage to 25,000 people?

      Is fraud less, or more egregious than vandalism?

      🌻🌻 []
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Sunday March 03, @07:34PM (1 child)

        by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Sunday March 03, @07:34PM (#1347243)

        In Federal, you can get at most 15% off for good behavior, and you can lose that over total chickenshit. My pen pal saved money on a phone call by conferencing both children -- she lost some of her good time over that.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Sunday March 03, @08:39PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday March 03, @08:39PM (#1347250)

          >In Federal, you can get at most 15% off for good behavior

          Reassuring that our Federal vengeance sentencing (including bullshit repeat drug possession convicts) is so relatively inflexible. Until they change the rules again.

          My life experience of such matters (limited in the criminal justice system) is that, mostly, the players with the power make the rules up as they go along, rather arbitrarily. Sure, the local warden has to listen to the judges, and the judges have their guidelines, but at some level it's all a matter of who is in charge and what their own personal agenda is.

          So, yeah, "loss of good behavior for conferencing in both children" certainly sounds like a policy written somewhere, enforced or not at the whim of the local bully-warden. And certainly lots of politicos get elected on platforms of "tough on crime, tougher on criminals" so this kind of treatment of human beings who happened to have been convicted and sentenced is to be expected... I'm just going to guess that if Martha Stewart's cell-block mates made a similar infraction in their facility, that policy just might be overlooked... maybe not for hot-topic Martha herself, but the rest of 'em?

          🌻🌻 []
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by organgtool on Sunday March 03, @02:12AM

    by organgtool (6385) on Sunday March 03, @02:12AM (#1347161)

    So split the difference and settle on 52.5 years.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by mendax on Sunday March 03, @08:00AM (3 children)

    by mendax (2840) on Sunday March 03, @08:00AM (#1347178)

    I wonder if SBF isn't some sort of sociopath. Some of the things he has done and said certain fit into the profile, not exactly the Donald Trump-type of sociopath, but certainly one who really seems to not feel any remorse for his crimes. Oh, he may express remorse at his sentencing hearing on the advice of his lawyers. (Indeed, it can work to reduce a sentence as I personally have seen a judge do a downward departure during sentencing in federal court of a friend who did read a statement expressing his deep remorse for his crime against the advice of his attorney.) But I feel they will be saccharine tears. If he does this, hopefully the judge will see through his subterfuge. I generally don't approve of long prison sentences but SBF's crimes require at least 30 years in prison.

    It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Sunday March 03, @03:24PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday March 03, @03:24PM (#1347211)

      >I wonder if SBF isn't some sort of sociopath.

      There's no wondering here at all: he was willing to defraud astounding numbers of people out of significant amounts of money, all the while "living large" off of the skim from his operations. There's no demonstration of remorse. If he was somehow ignorant of what he was doing, but doing it anyway, that's a "special" kind of sociopathy: gaining the trust of others then recklessly squandering that trust at their expense.

      One person willing to hurt many for their own benefit, that's sociopathy.

      The question of remorse (and the sincerity of that remorse) is important in sentencing. The real question in sentencing is: will the cost of incarceration roughly equate to the damage-risk of likely future recidivism. What value is society losing with the incarceration? Not only the cost of the jailing, but the loss of the inmate to productive life in society? Then: if they end up doing their crime again after release, what's the cost of that?

      🌻🌻 []
    • (Score: 2) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Sunday March 03, @07:36PM (1 child)

      by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Sunday March 03, @07:36PM (#1347244)

      Anecdotal, but one reason to be skeptical of long sentences. I read a memoir from a cocaine wholesaler. He said that in his experience, after 20 years it stops being punishment and just seems normal.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Sunday March 03, @08:51PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday March 03, @08:51PM (#1347251)

        >in his experience, after 20 years it stops being punishment and just seems normal.

        I completely believe this, but I also believe that incarceration should not be about punishment. Incarceration should be a path to reform, or at the very least a prevention of recidivism. So, the coke dealer in for 30 years might not be feeling punished anymore, but at least he's not still out there killing his competitors and making new addicts who end up ruining their own lives.

        As for whether coke dealers should be jailed... IMO not for possession and distribution per se, but the nearly inevitable crimes related to illegal activity with such high value attached are very much a concern that should be stopped.

        In the late 60s / early 70s one of my fathers' high school buddies got into the "square grouper" import business, fully expecting to get caught but planning for it. He thought he would get about a 2 year run, put the profits away, do his time, and then "go straight." As it turned out, he had more like a 10 year run, made more money than my father will in his entire life, got caught, did two years in jail, and is now out living large on the proceeds he squirreled away after paying off all his relatives' home mortgages, buying some very pricey real-estate, etc.

        🌻🌻 []
  • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by Opportunist on Sunday March 03, @08:43AM

    by Opportunist (5545) on Sunday March 03, @08:43AM (#1347179)

    We allow them to decide their sentence?

    While we still lock up people for life for stealing three apples?

  • (Score: 4, Touché) by looorg on Sunday March 03, @10:05AM

    by looorg (578) on Sunday March 03, @10:05AM (#1347181)

    Sam's charitable works and demonstrated commitment to others ...

    Right. But that wasn't really his money to give away in the first place. He gave away some money that he gained by less then legal means. That isn't exactly charity is it?

    Are not both his parents law professors, or something such, and this was the best they could come up with? He is a nice boy that gives onto others ...

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by pTamok on Sunday March 03, @02:05PM (3 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Sunday March 03, @02:05PM (#1347208)

    What is the benefit to society from incarcerating him for a long period? Prisons are expensive places.

    Is he dangerous? Do people need to be protected from (physical) harm?

    Would it not be better to rehabilitate him as fast as possible, and get him out and paying taxes?

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Nuke on Sunday March 03, @07:19PM (2 children)

      by Nuke (3162) on Sunday March 03, @07:19PM (#1347238)

      What is the benefit to society from incarcerating him for a long period?

      So he cannot scam anyone else until he is either dead or too senile to pull it off again. Also, to discourage the others. Sounds straightforward to me.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by krishnoid on Sunday March 03, @08:54PM (1 child)

        by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday March 03, @08:54PM (#1347252)

        And Trump's being fined and prevented from doing business in New York for all of three years? Just prevent Sam Bankman-Fried from providing financial services for a while.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Mykl on Sunday March 03, @10:52PM

          by Mykl (1112) on Sunday March 03, @10:52PM (#1347255)

          Strictly from a business viewpoint, Trump should've been banned from running a business decades ago. His fraud and dodgy dealings have cost many creditors millions of dollars over the years. 3 years for him is a joke and is clearly influenced by his political position (which is the entire reason he got into politics in the first place).