Rep. George Santos (R-New York) has announced that he will not seek reelection to the House after a damning House Ethics Committee report released on Thursday found “substantial evidence” of improprieties concerning his campaign finances, including findings that he “blatantly stole” campaign funds.
The long-awaited 56-page report, prepared by Ethics investigators, lays out a number of findings, including that Santos carried out fraudulent activities both in the solicitation of donations for his campaign and in allegedly using those funds for his own personal benefit.
“Representative Santos’ lies go far beyond inaccuracies on a resume. The [Investigative Subcommittee]’s investigation revealed a complex web of unlawful activity involving Representative Santos’ campaign, personal, and business finances,” the report says.
“Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” it continued. “He blatantly stole from his campaign. He deceived donors into providing what they thought were contributions to his campaign but were in fact payments for his personal benefit. He reported fictitious loans to his political committees to induce donors and party committees to make further contributions to his campaign — and then diverted more campaign money to himself as purported ‘repayments’ of those fictitious loans.”
It is likely that Santos and his campaign operation violated federal law numerous times, House investigators found.
The report details alleged improprieties like Santos using campaign funds for botox, other cosmetic procedures, and trips to places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. It also presents evidence that Santos formed a firm to supposedly help with the campaign that actually funneled him tens of thousands of dollars — money that investigators found was spent on paying personal credit card bills and debt, an over $4,000 purchase at Hermes, smaller purchases at makeup company Sephora, and OnlyFans, an online platform largely used for adult content.
Ethics investigators additionally found that Santos’s financial disclosure in 2020, the first year he ran for Congress, was incomplete and not an accurate representation of his finances. Meanwhile, his 2021 and 2023 financial disclosures are missing completely, and his 2022 financial disclosure was three months late and full of “errors and omissions,” the report notes.
The report additionally notes that, during their investigation, Santos failed to produce financial records backing up some of his claims to the subcommittee, and was also generally uncooperative with the investigation. The report says that it is likely that he “knowingly and willfully failed” to provide complete information on his financial disclosures.
Santos announced in a statement shortly after the report’s release that he is not seeking reelection because “my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.” He called the report “biased” and a “disgusting politicized smear.”
This comes after two major staff members for Santos’s campaign have pleaded guilty in a sprawling federal case against the lawmaker involving campaign finance fraud. On Tuesday, former Santos fundraiser Sam Miele pleaded guilty to a federal count of wire fraud. Miele had impersonated a staffer for a member of Congress — widely believed to be then-chief of staff for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) Dan Meyer, as reporters have found — in an attempt to solicit donations for Santos’s campaign.
And, last month, the former campaign treasurer for Santos, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty to felony charges regarding a fraudulent $500,000 loan to the campaign as part of an apparent scheme to inflate the campaign’s fundraising numbers.
Some House lawmakers have said that it is likely they will move to expel Santos following the release of the report. House Republican leaders had previously said that they wouldn’t act until the Ethics Committee found wrongdoing, and an effort to expel Santos earlier this month failed in a split vote, with many Republicans and Democrats voting not to expel him.
Since then, however, numerous lawmakers who previously voted “no” or “present” on the issue have said that they are now going to vote to expel Santos.
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