FTX Bahamas paid $400,000 to co-CEO’s MAGA Republican congressional candidate girlfriend

  • FTX Digital Markets co-CEO Ryan Salame and failed GOP candidate Michelle Bond are dating.
  • Bond received $400,000 from FTX Digital Markets for advice and financial information.
  • Bond, a crypto advocate and former SEC official, has been endorsed by Donald Trump Jr. and MAGA personalities.

Michelle Bond, a failed far-right Republican candidate for Congress and prominent cryptocurrency advocate, received at least $400,000 in advisory fees from FTX Digital Markets – the Bahamas-based FTX entity where her boyfriend Ryan Salame is co-CEO.

The consultancy payments are listed in Bond’s Congressional Candidates Financial Disclosure Report and were originally reported in August by cryptocurrency trade publication The Block. They state that Bond earned $200,000 this year and the year before on FTX Digital Markets. Bond did not respond to requests for comment on what the consultancy work entailed.

The dramatic implosion of FTX, which last month went from one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges to a now bankrupt entity that owes billions to its creditors, has drawn attention to the links of the 30-year-old founder Sam Bankman-Fried with Democratic lawmakers. . Bankman-Fried has made tens of millions of political donations this year to support mostly Democratic candidates through groups like Protect Our Future PAC.

Republicans seized on the scandal. Bankman-Fried “deployed his ill-gotten gains in service to the Democratic Party” and “funded his lavish donations…through rampant fraud,” GOP Sen. Josh Hawley wrote in a letter to Justice Department heads, SEC , and Commodity Futures Trading Commission demanding that they hand over correspondence with the company.

But as Bankman-Fried became a strong supporter of Democratic candidates and effective altruism charities, Salame, his co-manager at one of FTX’s top affiliates, charted a different course. He and Bond began making inroads with MAGA Republicans and spending huge amounts of money trying to get Bond into Congress.

Bond, who was running to represent New York’s First Congressional District, lost the Republican primary in August to Navy veteran Nick Lalota. During her campaign, she was endorsed by Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle and Senator Ted Cruz. Bond tweeted a photo in July of her and Salame having dinner with Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle, whom she called “friends.”

Bond also courted far-right voters with complaints about drag events at schools and appeared on the podcast of a Long Island anti-government group that organized hundreds to attend the Stop the Steal on January 6, 2021.

Salame became co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets in 2021, a wholly owned subsidiary of FTX, after previously working at FTX’s trading arm, Alameda Research. He has been a top Republican donor this year, giving at least $20 million to GOP candidates and conservative PACs. In the aftermath of FTX’s collapse, people close to Salame told the Wall Street Journal that he was unaware of any issues with the company and vomited upon learning of the company’s financial disaster.

As bankruptcy proceedings unfold, the company’s new CEO, John J. Ray, said in a filing last week that he’s never seen such a complete failure of corporate controls in his career. business and the concentration of power in the hands of a small group of individuals. Ray previously oversaw the bankruptcy of Enron.

Bond’s ties to Salame and FTX

The precise details of Salame and Bond’s relationship are unclear, and neither responded to requests for comment to clarify when the two met or became a couple. The two feature prominently in each other’s social media presence, and a spokesperson for Bond’s campaign called the couple “longtime partners” in a statement to The Block in August. The banner of their two Twitter accounts is a picture of them together, and in Bond campaign material they are pictured holding the hands of two children.

Past social media posts include the two posing with Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry at an FTX-sponsored Crypto Bahamas event and sending love messages online.

“Thank you Ryan — my ❤️, best friend and boyfriend/partner/significant other/fiancé/husband (as all have reported in the press) — thank you to my lucky stars for meeting you and for having you in my life . love you,” Bond tweeted in September.

Bond is a former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney who has become a well-known Washington cryptocurrency advocate in recent years, and her now-deleted campaign website describes her as working “day in and day out with Congress. and the executive branch”. She is currently CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets, or ADAM, an advocacy organization that added FTX US and FTX to its board in February of this year.

“FTX GONE GIVE IT TO YA,” Bond tweeted at the time, repeating part of a Politico Morning Money newsletter headline.

ADAM did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on Bond or its ties to FTX. A spokesperson for ADAM told CNBC last week that FTX and FTX US are no longer board members.

Bond’s Crypto-Funded Congressional Campaign

FTX US gave millions to a number of super PACs and political organizations before it went bankrupt this month, with the majority of contributions going to Democratic candidates and groups. The biggest recipient was Protect Our Future PAC, which received $28 million from FTX US in political contributions and donated to various Democratic candidates.

Of all of FTX US’ donations to individual contestants, however, Bond received the largest contribution. His campaign received $28,600 from FTX US, according to Open Secrets. Additionally, The New York Times reported in August that Salame personally donated $1.5 million to the GMI super PAC, which then donated $1 million to the Crypto Innovation PAC which, in turn, spent more. $1 million in ad buys to support Bond.

FTX US’ donations to Bond are somewhat out of step with the rest of his contributions, which have generally gone to candidates who focus on Bankman-Fried’s favorite issues such as pandemic planning. Bond, on the other hand, campaigned on an anti-immigration and anti-abortion platform and appeared on the podcast of a group that opposes vaccination mandates.

Bond joined a July 18 episode of the podcast of the anti-democratic group Long Island Loud Majority, where she promoted a number of right-wing grievance campaigns that included suggestions that schools were overrun with drag events and critical theory of the breed.

“We have these schools that accuse five-year-olds of being racist,” Bond said.

The Long Island Loud Majority has gone from a pro-Trump group to what the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an anti-government group, which promotes stolen election conspiracies, anti-vaccine lies and anti-trans rhetoric. Bond also tweeted a picture of herself next to two band members, who were wearing t-shirts with her logo, at her campaign headquarters.

“The group staged protests, convoys and even drove about 300 people to DC on January 6, 2021, joining crowds near the Capitol,” Joe Wiinikka-Lydon, a senior researcher at SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told Insider.

Bond has also relied on the support of prominent MAGA global figures. In addition to Cruz and Trump Jr.’s endorsements, Kimberly Guilfoyle made a short video just before the New York State Republican primaries calling on voters to rally around Bond – casting her as the “only candidate endorsed by MAGA ” in the race.

“I’m here to encourage you all to vote for my friend Michelle Bond,” Guilfoyle said in the Aug. 22 video. “I know Michelle will fight like hell to restore President Trump’s America First policy to Congress.”

Bond finished the primary in a distant second place with around 27.8% of the total votes cast and around 7,298 votes.

Additional reporting by Jack Newsham.

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