Santos accused of hiding sources of funds he lent his campaign | The Hawk Eye – Burlington, Iowa
WASHINGTON — A watchdog group filed a complaint Monday with the Federal Election Commission urging it to immediately open an investigation into questions about Rep. George Santos’ campaign fundraising, loans and expenditures.
The complaint, by the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, alleges Santos hid the true sources of funds he lent his campaign, misrepresented the campaign’s spending and used its funds for personal expenses.
The center said Santos’ salary soaring from $55,000 in 2020 to $750,000 in 2022 suggests he was a funnel for others’ money. It questioned the source of his $705,000 in loans to his campaign. And it alleges he falsified reports on 37 filings on expenditures under $200.
“George Santos has lied to voters about a lot of things, but while lying about your background might not be illegal, deceiving voters about your campaign’s funding and spending is a serious violation of federal law,” said Adav Noti, the center’s legal director.
“Voters deserve the truth. They have a right to know who is spending to influence their vote and their government and they have a right to know how the candidates competing for their vote are spending those funds,” Adav said in a statement.
Santos, 34, admitted fabricating much of his resume after he won the 2022 election to represent the 3rd District in Nassau and Queens counties. He faces local, state and federal investigations.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., swore in Santos early Saturday.
Many of the allegations in the complaint have been reported by news outlets, including the December expose and subsequent stories by The New York Times.
Santos and his lawyer, Joseph Murray, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The FEC declined to comment on the complaint.
The complaint alleges that Santos acted as a straw donor for unknown others for the $705,000 in loans he made to his campaign finance committees, despite his statements that he drew it from his salary and dividends from his firm Devolder LLC.
“The available information indicates that Santos and other unknown persons engaged in a scheme to provide illegal contributions to Santos’ campaign,” the complaint said.
It said, “these unknown persons provided money to Santos disguised as income from his wholly owned entity Devolder LLC.”
The complaint points out that Santos created and ran his fledgling company and his campaign for Congress at the same time, a difficult task.
The complaint said there is scant information to corroborate Santos made such amount of money from brokering deals between the wealthy.
Santos filed his declaration of his candidacy with the FEC on April 17, 2021, created Devolder LLC in Florida on May 11, 2021, and made the first of three loans — for $80,000 — to his campaign on June 30, 2021, the complaint said.
The Florida Secretary of State dissolved Devolder LLC in September 2022 after it failed to file its annual report, but reinstated it in December after Santos filed a report following the Times expose.
The complaint also called it likely that Santos also “funneled outside money” to his campaign in his first run for Congress in 2020 when he lent it $81,250, even though he reported in his personal financial disclosure statement an income of $55,000.
Falsifying records, personal use
The Santos campaign appears to have routinely falsified its disclosures of how it spent money by reporting 40 disbursements between $199 and $199.99 — just under the $200 threshold that requires reporting of the date, amount, the purpose of the expenditure, the complaint said.
The campaign submitted 37 of those 40 reports for $199.99.
Some appear to be impossible, including one for a Miami Beach hotel that charges more than $700 for a room, a membership that costs $189 and a JFK Airport parking fee.
And the campaign reported spending $199.99 seven times at Il Bacco Restaurant in Queens for food and drink — once reporting that expenditure twice in one day, according to the complaint.
The campaign also apparently spent $13,500 to rent a single-family home in Huntington for Santos in payments described as “Apartment Rental for Staff,” “Rent” or “Rent and Rent Deposit.”
That would constitute a violation of the FEC ban on putting campaign funds toward personal use.