MoonPay CEO is behind mysterious donation to support Miami Mayor Francis Suarez

Quick Take

  • The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that MoonPay CEO Ivan Soto-Wright is behind the mysterious $500,000 donation directed toward a PAC backing Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
  • An LLC named PassionForest last week became the subject of a complaint filed with the FEC.

Ivan Soto-Wright, co-founder and CEO of crypto payments firm MoonPay, was named as the person behind a mysterious $500,000 donation to a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

The donation, made by PassionForest, LLC, became the subject of a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center with the Federal Elections Commission late last month. That complaint alleged that PassionForest, an “online artificial flower vendor,” was in fact a straw donor used to illegally funnel $500,000 from an unidentified source into a Super PAC backing Suarez.

The entity was incorporated in Delaware in 2021 and has little online presence beyond an Amazon storefront listing a Chinese business address, according to the complaint.

“Publicly available information suggests that PassionForest’s artificial flower business had largely shuttered within eleven months and that the LLC therefore could not have made a $500,000 contribution without money being provided to it for that purpose,” it added.

MoonPay's Soto-Wright responds 

The PAC added a memo to a filing on Monday and listed Soto-Wright as the CEO of PassionForest, the Miami Herald said. A spokesperson for Soto-Wright denied any wrongdoing and told the paper that the CEO personally donated the funds through the LLC that has no affiliation with the Chinese flower vendor of the same name. 

The spokesperson called the complaint "typical politics," likely being used by an opposing campaign to "tie Suarez up in several negative news cycles."

“Ivan Soto-Wright made a personal contribution consistent with federal campaign finance laws,” Samuel Brown, a partner at law firm Holland & Knight that was used by Soto-Wright to file the contribution, told the Miami Herald. 

SOS America and Suarez’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Herald. The FEC told the paper that it doesn't comment on complaints or potential investigations.

MoonPay didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment from The Block.

When Soto-Wright met Suarez

Suarez, a Republican, is a longstanding crypto advocate who has taken his city salary in bitcoin. He announced he was running for President in June. 

Soto-Wright — who is often pictured rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous — has met Suarez on numerous occasions. A video posted by Suarez on YouTube in 2021 shows the pair discussing why MoonPay chose Miami for its headquarters. Later, in December 2022, Suarez spoke about MoonPay’s success at another event in the city.

From relative obscurity, Soto-Wright’s startup raised $555 million in a Series A round at the peak of the last crypto bull market in November 2021, valuing it at $3.4 billion. A bevy of celebrities also invested in the startup at that time.

A recent report from The Information revealed that Soto-Wright and other executives at the firm cashed out $150 million by selling shares as part of the Series A round. Not long after MoonPay’s Series A was announced, news broke that Soto-Wright had purchased a $38 million mansion in Miami.

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