A former congressional aide to Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is now claiming that he was forced to buy his job with Santos.
Derek Myers – who has also accused Santos of sexual harassment – told the House Ethics Committee that he sent at least seven payments of $150 to Santos’s director of operations, Vish Burra, in January when he was applying for his job with Santos.
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Myers said that he didn’t think Burra was getting paid for his work and that he couldn’t afford food, so he started sending the payments even though Burra didn’t ask for them. He also said that he hoped the payments would help him get a job.
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“Burra was a powerful person,” he said. “I wanted him to advocate on my behalf.”
Myers showed proof of the transfers – which includes Venmo payments and text messages and emails to staffers – to the AP. Burra isn’t commenting on the matter.
Myers said that Burra didn’t directly ask him for money but requested Myers “send more pizza,” which he took to be a reference to how he used a pizza emoji in Venmo subject lines.
In one text exchange, Myers asked Burra “Did you get payroll yet.”
“No. You didn’t have to do that man,” Burra replied. “I’m gonna pay you back for sure.”
In early February, Myers accused Santos of sexual harassment, sending a letter to the House Ethics Committee outlining the allegations.
He wrote that he was alone with Santos in his office on January 25 and was going over letters the congressmember received when Santos asked Myers if he had a profile on Grindr. Santos allegedly told Myers that he had a Grindr profile.
“He called me ‘buddy’ and insisted I sit next to him on a small sofa,” Myers wrote. “I proceeded to move forward with the discussion about the mail, but the Congressman stopped me by placing his hand on my left leg, near my knee and saying, ‘Hey buddy, we’re going to karaoke tonight. Would you like to go?’ I kindly declined the invitation by telling the Congressman I was not a fan of clubs and bars and that I was not a good singer.”
“The Congressman proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg to my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin.”
“He proceeded to look at me and say, ‘My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over’ and went on to tell me where the Congressman lived. I quickly pushed the Congressman’s hand away and grabbed the mail from the table and proceeded to discuss the topic of constituent correspondence.”
Myers said that he was called into a meeting the following Monday to talk about the fact that he used to work as a journalist, something he said he had already discussed in his job interviews. On Wednesday, February 1, he said that he was fired.
Santos is facing 13 federal charges related to several alleged schemes to enrich himself. LGBTQ+ members of the House tried to force a vote to expel Santos, but Republicans sent their resolution to the House Ethics Committee, where it is expected to languish.