May 20, 2024
Budding Republican megadonor Ryan Salame quietly shelled out $13.4 million of his personal fortune to boost 15 GOP congressional candidates in the just-concluded 2022 primaries.

Budding Republican megadonor Ryan Salame quietly shelled out $13.4 million of his personal fortune to boost 15 GOP congressional candidates in the just-concluded 2022 primaries.

Salame, a 29-year-old cryptocurrency mogul, lives in the Bahamas, which is the headquarters of FTX Digital Markets, the firm he oversees as chief executive officer. But he’s a native of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and as a self-described “libertarian”-leaning Republican, he decided to get involved in politics this year because he believes the federal government is gravely unprepared for the next pandemic. So, Salame launched a super PAC to boost like-minded candidates in GOP primaries.

“I’ve had a ton of success on the private side, in the business sector, and I think coming out of that, [I was] trying to think of ways that we could really benefit America and United States citizens — put something forward for future generations,” Salame told the Washington Examiner on Thursday in his first interview to discuss his super PAC, American Dream Federal Action.

“Living through and going through COVID, it became abundantly clear that we’re not prepared for pandemics and not prepared for … future viral outbreaks,” Salame said. “It’s really important — and it’s one of the best things that we can do for future generations to ensure that we are prepared for them.”

With American Dream Federal Action, Salame is part of the growing list of young finance and technology entrepreneurs and executives immersing themselves in politics, using their wealth to back Democratic and Republican candidates, respectively. Prominent among them is Salame’s colleague, Sam Bankman-Fried, who has emerged as a major Democratic donor. Bankman-Fried is the founder of FTX Digital Markets, a cryptocurrency exchange registered in the Bahamas, and is the CEO of its parent corporation, FTX Trading Ltd.

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Despite Salame’s libertarian bent, he concluded effective preparation for the next coronavirus-type pandemic must be led by the federal government. That, he decided, will only happen if members of Congress prioritize the issue and pass the requisite legislation. To begin the process, he, along with the political team he assembled at his super PAC, screened Republicans running for the House and Senate, ultimately backing 15 who supported his passion for pandemic preparedness.

On average, Salame invested nearly $900,000 in each candidate’s primary. Thirteen won their respective nominations, including: Sen. John Boozman (R-AR); Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN); Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID); Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD); Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ); Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), the GOP Senate nominee in North Carolina; and Katie Britt, the GOP Senate nominee in Alabama.

Also backed by Salame’s super PAC were Erin Houchin, the GOP nominee in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District; Bo Hines, the GOP nominee in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District; Dale Strong, the GOP nominee in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District; Eli Crane, the GOP nominee in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District; Mark Alford, the GOP nominee in Missouri’s 4th Congressional District; and Aaron Beane, the GOP nominee in Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

Just two of the Republicans backed by American Dream Federal Action fell short in their primaries: Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Matt Mowers, the running-up for the nomination in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. Salame indicated his foray into politics is a long-term proposition, saying he learned a lot about the process with this initial effort.

“Being relatively new to this, I wasn’t quite sure the amount it would take to have a real impact. At the onset, I wanted to keep it under $25 million,” Salame said. “There’s not an exact science. We look at candidates holistically, look at what they’ve said previously about pandemics, see if there’s any history, and then move forward with candidates in that fashion.”

As far as what’s next in the midterm elections, Salame was vague.

However, Salame indicated American Dream Federal Action is not likely to plow nearly as much money into the fall campaign as the group did in Republican primaries to boost the 13 candidates he backed that are on the November ballot.

“We will play in the general [election],” he said, “but to a smaller degree than we have in the primary.”

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When Salame, who is single with no children, isn’t in the Bahamas running FTX Digital Markets, he’s in Washington, D.C., where he also maintains a residence. Prior to devoting his energy to politics, Salame, who grew up working menial jobs in restaurants in Berkshire County, used his wealth to open several restaurants in and around his hometown.

His plan for American Dream Federal Action in the coming elections is to continue supporting Republican candidates who believe in improving the ability of the federal government to respond to pandemics. Despite the country’s recent experience with COVID-19, Salame believes Washington is wholly unprepared to deal with the challenges that would likely accompany a future crisis.

“I would go as far as saying, ‘Not prepared at all,’” Salame said.

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