George Santos' mysterious campaign donors

Embattled New York Republican congressman George Santos may have stepped down from his committee assignments, but he hasn’t left office. He may soon get more than just a nudge in that direction, however, courtesy of the Justice Department. 

The DoJ took over the investigation into Santos’ campaign finance activity recently and now it appears they will have plenty of material to work with. 

A new report from Mother Jones provides the results of an investigation into many of the campaign contributions that Santos claimed to receive from some of his relatives who live in Queens, totaling more than $45,000. While some of his alleged donors don’t appear to exist, his relatives do, and they seemed to have been quite generous. 

But one of the relatives who was visited by a reporter claimed to be “dumbfounded” by the idea that they had been a maximum-level donor to George’s campaign. They insisted that they hadn’t given his campaign any money, and that could land the new congressman in very hot water.

According to Santos’ campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission, his recent campaign pulled in more than $45,000 from relatives who lived in Queens. This included a mail handler who gave more than $4,000, a painter who donated the maximum of $5,800, and a student who also contributed $5,800. One of Santos’ relatives, who was recorded as giving $5,800, says that they did not make any donation to Santos.

On Tuesday, a Mother Jones reporter visited the Queens home of this relative. Informed that two donations of $2,900 each were listed under this person’s name and address in Santos’ campaign finance reports, the relative, who asked not to be identified, said, “I’m dumbfounded.” The relative had no idea where the money for these donations came from and remarked, “It’s all news to me.” This person added, “I don’t have that money to throw around!”

It’s easy for conservatives to be a bit skeptical about any reporting coming from Mother Jones, and I’ve taken issue with their left-wing positions in the past. But in this instance, we should offer credit where credit is due. This is the type of hands-on, local investigative reporting that is frequently missing in the modern, digital era.

They went through Santos’ FEC filings, identified the donors, and tracked them down to verify the FEC records. And in the case of at least one of Santos’ relatives, they clearly appear to have hit pay dirt. If your own family members won’t go to bat for you, you’ve probably been up to some sketchy activity. That person may not be the last domino in the stack, either. Santos’ sister is recorded as having given more than $5,000 to his campaign. But when she was contacted, she refused to confirm or deny that she or any other relatives had contributed. (She was also recently facing possible eviction over a failure to pay her rent, a problem that appears to run in the Santos family.)

Faking campaign contributions wouldn’t just force Santos out of Congress. That sort of thing can send a person to prison, and it’s a safe bet that the Justice Department is watching this news closely.

On an unrelated note, there has been an update to the story of an earlier accusation leveled against Santos. Last month, we heard from Navy Veteran Richard Osthoff, who told reporters that George Santos had stolen $3,000 from a GoFundMe account set up to pay for cancer surgery for his service dog and disappeared. The account was supposedly administered by Santos’ “Friends of Pets United,” a charity that does not appear to exist. Yesterday, Richard Osthoff received a visit from the FBI. 

From the New York Post:

The FBI has spoken to the Navy veteran who claims disgraced Long Island Rep. George Santos conned him out of thousands of dollars meant to go toward saving his dying service dog, according to a report.

Two agents reached out to Richard Osthoff on Wednesday as part of the Brooklyn US Attorney’s probe into the lying Republican lawmaker, according to Politico.

If the allegations about George Santos faking his campaign donations are proven true, that just makes him a rather inept criminal doing things that are far too easily provable. But if the story about the service dog is accurate (and there’s little reason to doubt it), then he’s a major-league scumbag. Regular readers already know my history with pets and animal shelters, so that’s a sore spot for me and I’m probably biased.

But this guy is just turning out to be such a piece of work that it’s almost beyond belief. Plenty of people who actually did vote for him are experiencing buyer’s remorse. According to an NBC poll this week, 78% of Santos’ voters want him to resign. “And yet he persists.”

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