Victoria’s Secret Models, a Flipped Table, an Allegedly Stolen Ikea Dresser: The George Santos Story Gets Even Weirder

Campaign-Money Questions

Santos previously claimed that a $500,000 loan he made to his campaign had come from his personal funds, which raised a large number of questions given that it wasn’t clear how he would have had that kind of cash sitting around. (In fact, as thand New York Times reported last month, Santos was evicted by two different landlords and appeared, at one time, to be unable to pay just $2,250 in rent.)

But a new campaign finance filing, per the Daily Beast, tells a different story. The filing still says that the half a million dollars came “from the candidate,” but the previously ticked box indicating “personal funds of the candidate” is no longer checked. Another new filing shows that a $125,000 “loan from the candidate” was also not made from personal funds. And if you’re finding yourself even more confused than you were 30 seconds ago, you’re not alone. “We have a number of seasoned lawyers in the office and in our community, and everyone is pretty much collectively scratching their heads,” Robert Maguire, the research director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told NBC News of the filings. Brendan Fisher, deputy executive director of government watchdog Documented, told the Daily Beast: “I don’t know what they think they are doing. Santos’s 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.”

And go away they haven’t! Last month federal prosecutors in Brooklyn reportedly launched an investigation into the congressman, which was said to include a probe of his finances. He is also under investigation by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. Meanwhile, the New York State attorney general’s office has separately said it is “looking into a number of issues” concerning Santos.

Other Campaign-Money Questions

It was already known that Santos’s campaign shadily recorded more than three dozen expenses all costing $199.99, an amount conveniently just one cent below the threshold at which campaigns must keep receipts. But just how shady was it? Well, a new report from Politico puts it in stark terms for anyone thinking that maybe this whole thing was really just a funny coincidence:

Campaigns rack up millions of dollars in expenses and thousands of line items per campaign, but it is rare for them to notch even one $199 expense, according to a Politico review of campaign finance records. FEC data shows more than 90% of House and Senate campaign committees around the country did not report a single transaction worth between $199 and $199.99 during the 2022 election cycle.

Santos reported 40 of them.

The rarity of campaign expenses falling so close to the legal limit for retaining receipts has raised concerns that the Santos campaign’s disbursements were “deliberately falsified,” a complaint from the Campaign Legal Center alleges. Major questions about Santos’s campaign financing remain unanswered, including the source of $700,000 that the New York congressman ostensibly loaned to his campaign despite questions about his personal finances.

“This was a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar operation,” Adavi Noti, a former FEC lawyer and senior vice president at the Campaign Legal Center, who has filed a complaint against the New York congressman, told the outlet. “We don’t know where the money came from. We don’t know where the money went to.”

In related news, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose Speakership has been one humiliation after another, said on Tuesday that Santos will be removed from Congress if the House Ethics Committee determines he broke the law. Until then, however, he’ll be backing the guy. “You know why I’m standing by him? Because his constituents voted for him,” McCarthy said, leaving out the part about his constituents having voted for an entirely different person.

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