In an exclusive interview with REDBROWARD, School Board Member Debbi Hixon said she spoke with an attorney at the Florida Commission on Ethics about her role with the troubled cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Two weeks ago, REDBROWARD reported Hixon was paid for her role in the FTX Hackathon and Crypto Summit which provided scholarships and prize money to students. The event was planned and developed by Broward Democrat lobbyist Barbara Miller, the aunt of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Hixon told REDBROWARD she wanted to create wellness centers at Broward Schools to help students with their physical and mental health. When she told her campaign manager Barbara Miller about this passion project, Miller said FTX was looking to fund charitable projects. Hixon said Miller set up a meeting with Joe Bankman, Miller’s brother and father of Sam Bankman-Fried.
While Bankman seemed impressed with the wellness center ideas, Hixon said preferred his own passion project—the hackathon. Eager to help students, Hixon signaled her approval of Bankman’s idea.
Hixon told REDBROWARD she was hired as the project director for the FTX event. She was paid nearly $50,000 for her role which lasted from June 2021 to March 2022. The Hackathon invited students from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach to pitch ideas about “creating change, creating and maintaining non-profit organizations and making a positive impact.”
Hixon said all students received their $15,000 scholarships. The million dollar prize was split between two teams. According to Hixon, the $500,000 won by a team of Broward students was paid to entities at Florida International University (FIU).
Regarding her duties, Hixon said, “I was the contact person if [students] had questions, responded to all emails, received and screened submissions, and notified the winners.” Once the finalists were chosen, Hixon said she helped teams find mentors and organized practices sessions. Hixon said she was “part of the team that planned the Hackathon Finale event.”
Other members of the team included Barbara Miller and Miller’s brother Joe Bankman as well as representatives from Major League Baseball (MLB).
Since the FTX event included the Broward School District, Hixon says she sought a legal opinion from the Florida Commission on Ethics. After speaking with Commission attorney Steven Zuilkowski, Hixon decided to only handle logistics with Miami-Dade and Palm Beach schools.
Barbara Miller served as the “liaison” between Broward Schools and FTX, Hixon said.
Yesterday, REDBROWARD reported Barbara Miller worked for FTX.