FTX Former Executive Salame Caught in Federal Campaign Finance Probe: WSJ
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Federal prosecutors are delving into the financials of Ryan Salame, a former executive of FTX, and Michelle Bond, a previous congressional candidate. Their inquiry focuses on a potential infringement of federal campaign-finance laws during Bond’s 2022 campaign for the GOP primary in New York’s 1st congressional district, The Wall Street Journal reported on July 11.
In this investigation, authorities are examining if Salame and Bond unlawfully bypassed federal contribution limits to Bond’s campaign, especially to the money given by Salame to Bond and loans she extended to her campaign.
Salame’s name also surfaced in the context of the case against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who has been charged with the alleged theft of funds from FTX customers, campaign financing fraud and other charges, yet Salame has not been charged with anything related to the FTX crash.
While both Bond and Salame’s representatives have declined to comment, the investigation started to gather momentum as early as April, when the probe led to searches of their Maryland residence and the seizure of their mobile phones.
Formerly the CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets and a consultant for FTX, Bond was a late entrant into the 2022 GOP primary race. Despite prominent Republican endorsements, Bond’s campaign fell short.
Yet, it is the financing of her campaign that has drawn attention, with FEC filings showing almost $660,000 in contributions, including significant sums from Salame and her own funds:
“She raised a total of nearly $660,000 in contributions, including more than $54,000 from Salame and employees of FTX and Bankman-Fried’s crypto hedge fund. Bond contributed $145,309 to her own campaign and lent it nearly $880,000, records show.”
The 2022 election rules allow an individual to donate a maximum of $2,900 to a candidate’s primary and general campaigns, respectively, meaning someone can “contribute up to $5,800 to a federal candidate.” Meanwhile, candidates can contribute unlimited amounts of their own money to their own campaigns.
Bond’s ongoing divorce from Daniel Bond has raised further questions, as the WSJ alleged that “Bond and Salame have dated for more than a year.” Salame’s deposits into Bond’s checking account are under scrutiny, probing if they were a covert way of bolstering Bond’s campaign because:
“In May a judge overseeing the divorce denied a request by Bond’s husband to question her about potential campaign-finance violations during a child-custody hearing, according to records in the case.”