Miami mayor Francis Suarez recently found himself embroiled in controversy when it was revealed that his presidential campaign received a massive $500,000 donation from PassionForest, LLC, a crypto firm. The donation, made on October 28, 2022, attracted the attention of the Campaign Legal Center, which filed a complaint on July 25, 2023, alleging that PassionForest was based in China and thus violated campaign financing rules.
According to filings from Suarez’s political action committee (PAC), the CEO of MoonPay, Ivan Soto-Wright, was behind the donation. Soto-Wright’s representatives confirmed that their client made the donation but clarified that PassionForest, LLC is owned and controlled entirely by Soto-Wright himself. They also denied any association with the Chinese company sharing the same name.
Despite the clarification, the Campaign Legal Center remains concerned about potential straw donations. Straw donations involve using a third party, such as a company, to make contributions on behalf of an individual. In this case, it is possible that Soto-Wright violated straw donation rules by donating through PassionForest, LLC.
Soto-Wright’s law firm, on the other hand, reiterated that the donation was a personal contribution made in compliance with federal campaign finance laws. However, the Campaign Legal Center continues to investigate and will determine whether any rules were indeed violated.
In response to the allegations, Mayor Suarez personally denied that the donation originated from a China-based company. He stated unequivocally that China had not contributed to any of his PACs. While Suarez’s denial provides some assurance, further investigation is required to verify the source of the donation.
Francis Suarez has actively embraced cryptocurrencies during his tenure as the Mayor of Miami. In 2021, he made headlines by accepting part of his salary in Bitcoin. He also championed the launch of MiamiCoin, a local cryptocurrency developed through the CityCoins project. These initiatives have earned him a reputation as a pro-cryptocurrency politician.
In June 2023, Suarez announced his candidacy for President as a Republican. Despite his proclamation, his platform remains largely unknown. Nevertheless, he seems to have garnered support from members of the cryptocurrency community due to his favorable stance towards digital assets.
The donation received by Miami mayor Francis Suarez’s presidential campaign has generated significant controversy. While the involvement of Ivan Soto-Wright, CEO of MoonPay, provides some clarity, concerns over potential straw donations persist. The Campaign Legal Center’s complaint and subsequent investigation aim to shed light on the matter. Meanwhile, Mayor Suarez maintains his pro-cryptocurrency image, and his bid for presidency has gained support from the cryptocurrency community. Only time will tell how this controversy will impact his political ambitions.