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Watchdog complaint alleges Rep. George Santos committed campaign finance violations

(NEW YORK) — A federal watchdog on Monday urged the Federal Election Commission to investigate Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., alleging he violated federal campaign finance laws by concealing the true sources of campaign donations, misrepresenting campaign spending and illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses

Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, said Santos “actively deceived the public throughout the 2022 election by fabricating virtually every aspect of his life” and compounded those fabrications with violations of federal law.

“As part of his latest campaign of duplicity, Santos also appears to have violated federal campaign finance laws by knowingly and willfully concealing the true sources of his campaign’s funding, misrepresenting how his campaign spent its money, and illegally paying for personal expenses with campaign funds. Particularly in light of Santos’s mountain of lies about his life and qualifications for office, the Commission should thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money,” the complaint said.

Santos, 34, admitted to fabricating much of his biography — including lying about attending the prestigious Horace Mann School, graduating from Baruch College and working for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup — after he won the midterm election to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District. Four different law enforcement offices are looking into his public disclosures: the New York attorney general, Queens district attorney, Nassau district attorney and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The complaint said it was implausible for Santos to claim he loaned his campaign $705,000, questioning “how he could have done so with his own funds” since his financial disclosure forms reported only $55,000 of income in 2020.

“His claims of having earned millions of dollars in 2021 and 2022 from a supposed consulting business that he started in May 2021, Devolder Organization LLC, are vague, uncorroborated and non-credible in light of his many previous lies,” the complaint said.

The complaint accused Santos “knowingly and willfully acted as a straw donor” funneling illegal contributions to his campaign from “unknown persons” who provided money disguised as income from Santos’ business.

“The volume and timing of Santos’s dramatic increase in income and assets, the lack of a clear explanation of how he generated that income, his well-documented penchant for dishonesty, and the fact that he then used $705,000 from his sudden windfall to fund his subsequent congressional campaign strongly suggests that the rapid shift in Santos’s finances was not a mere coincidence, but a direct result of unknown persons directly, and illegally, giving him money to run for federal office,” the complaint said.

There was no immediate comment from Santos or his representatives.

Santos has refused to resign from his position and said he is not a “fraud” or a “fake” in an interview with Fox News earlier this month.

“I believe that in order to move past this and move forward … I have to face my mistakes and I’m facing them,” Santos said in the interview.

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