News (USA)

A George Santos staffer is in trouble for harassing a journalist

Rep. George Santos
Rep. George Santos Photo: Shutterstock

A top staffer for Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is facing disciplinary action for repeatedly sending menacing tweets to a freelance reporter covering the embattled Republican’s many lies and legal troubles.

Vish Burra, the out Republican’s director of operations, directed multiple harassing messages at freelance reporter Jacqueline Sweet on Twitter last week, according to The Daily Beast. Sweet, whose reporting has resurfaced some of Santos’s alleged past crimes, was in the Long Island courtroom for the first-term congressman’s May 10 arraignment on charges that include seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives, and one count of theft of public funds. Santos has pleaded not guilty and was released on a $500,000 bond.

Sweet reportedly tweeted that during the arraignment, Burra, who was also present in the courtroom, glared at her.

“I knew you were looking into my eyes!” Burra responded on the social media site last Thursday night. “Jacqueline couldn’t keep her eyes off me!”

A Santos fan account responded to Burra’s comment, saying he “should have hit [Sweet] with that venom.” In a tweet that has been deleted, Burra replied that, “I think she wants me to hit her with something else!” The same Santos fan account responded, “We can’t have both of you in court.”

“I think she wants me to lock her up somewhere else!” Burra tweeted in response.

In another tweet, Burra reportedly insisted that Sweet had attended the Santos hearing specifically to see him, claiming that she was “not the first” liberal woman to fall for him. “Don’t worry, I know I have an effect on your types,” Burra tweeted.

In another series of suggestive tweets, Burra commented on a photo Sweet posted of a shoe left behind during the press scrum following the May 10 hearing. “I think it was @JSweetLI who left it behind hoping I would find who it belonged to and return it,” Burra tweeted.

A source told The Daily Beast that Burra’s harassment of Sweet is being taken “very seriously.”

“This kind of behavior from anyone is unacceptable, much less from a congressional staffer,” Santos communications director Naysa Woomer told the outlet on Friday. “Threats of violence of any kind will not be condoned. The tweets have been deleted and disciplinary action will be taken.”

Amid calls for his resignation following reporting on his extensive lies about nearly every aspect of his biography on the campaign trail, Santos hired Burra in January. The former producer of Steve Bannon’s podcast is known as a MAGA world “fixer” willing to work with controversial figures, a source told The New York Post at the time. He has worked for both Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Carl Paladino, a failed New York Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidate who in 2021 praised Adolf Hitler as “the kind of leader we need today.”

Burra himself was arrested in a 2014 Staten Island drug bust and pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance.

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