Politics

George Santos admits he lied about source of “personal loans” to campaign

George Santos
George SantosPhoto: George Santos campaign website

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) remains under ethics investigations for allegedly violating campaign finance laws, and he appears to have finally admitted that large amounts of money he claimed were “personal” loans to his campaign came from elsewhere.

An ethics complaint recently filed by Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Daniel Goldman (D-NY) called Santos’s financial disclosure reports “sparse and perplexing”. They noted that “his own public statements have contradicted some information included in the 2022 financial disclosure and confirmed that the 2022 financial disclosure failed to disclose other required information.”

A different ethics complaint was also filed asking the Federal Elections Commission to investigate how Santos – who declared an income of $55,000 in 2020 – could give a personal loan of $705,000 to his campaign in 2022.

On Tuesday, the Santos team reportedly filed several amended campaign finance reports which, in addition to other changes, no longer stated that a $500,000 loan to the campaign was a personal contribution from Santos. But it did not say where the money came from. It still claimed the money came “from the candidate,” but no longer checked the box stating “personal funds of the candidate,” according to a report from the Daily Beast.

The new filings also no longer stated that a $125,000 loan was a personal donation. It still, however, said it was “from the candidate” and did not say where it actually came from.

On his initial financial disclosure forms, Santos said that his company Devolder Organization LLC earned over $1 million in 2021 and 2022, something that Torres’s and Goldman’s complaint said contradicts publicly available information, noting that the data company Dun & Bradstreet estimated that the company had revenue of $43,688 on July 20, 2022.

The complaint also points out that the law requires members of Congress to disclose a client if they personally performed services for the client and the client paid over $5000 in the previous two years. Santos said that his business’s sudden success came from “multi-million dollar agreements” but never disclosed the identities of those clients.

Furthermore, the complaint points out that Santos said he owned a property in Brazil valued at $500,000 to $1 million on his financial disclosure form. In the past, Santos claimed to own 13 different properties and later admitted to owning none.

Brendan Fischer, the deputy director of the government watchdog group Documented told the Daily Beast Santos’s changes are not “a half-measure—it is hardly even a quarter-measure.”

“I don’t know what they think they are doing,” continued Fischer, a campaign finance expert. “Santos’ campaign might have unchecked the ‘personal funds of candidate’ box, but it is still reporting that the $500,000 came from Santos himself. If the ‘loan from candidate’ didn’t actually come from the candidate, then Santos should come clean and disclose where the money really came from. Santos can’t uncheck a box and make his legal problems go away.”

A mid-January report from the New York Times said Santos’s team had sought campaign donations through an entity called RedStone Strategies, which was not registered with the Federal Election Commission and has the same name as a private company with connections to Santos.

The report details several accusations from donors and people Santos allegedly solicited for donations that, if true, would mean Santos committed several campaign finance violations.

After being elected to represent New York’s Third Congressional District and becoming the first out gay Republican elected to Congress, Santos’ life story came crumbling down as several newspapers reported he never went to the colleges he said he attended, never worked for the major banks he said he worked for, and that he had been lying about his family history as well. He has admitted to many of these lies, calling them “a little bit of fluff” on his resume.

Santos admitted that he lied about graduating from Baruch College and New York University, working directly for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and living at a fake address in his congressional district. He provided no additional proof to back up claims that he founded a charity called Friends of Pets, that his grandparents escaped the Holocaust, and that he lost four employees in the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.

His ex-boyfriend, Pedro Vilarva, said that, while they lived together, he paid many bills for Santos. He suspects that Santos stole and pawned his phone for cash.

Santos has also been accused of check fraud in Brazil and has even been accused of stealing money designated for the medical care of a veteran’s dying dog.

A recent Siena College poll found that 71 percent of New York City suburbanites think Santos should resign. Only 8 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of Santos. Santos has repeatedly said that he won’t quit.

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