Frankly, I’m surprised they waited three whole days after he was sworn in. The “they” in question is the Federal Election Commission. On the first business day after Republican George Santos was sworn in as the next congressman from New York’s 3rd Congressional District, the nonprofit group Campaign Legal Center filed a formal complaint with the FEC asking for an investigation into Santos’ use of campaign funds, among other things. Santos has been very quiet during his first few days in Washington, but now he will very likely be forced to start talking because George clearly has some ‘splaining to do, as the kids say. (CBS News)
Newly sworn-in Congressman George Santos will begin his first week in office facing a formal ethics complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
In a civil complaint filed Monday with the agency and reviewed by CBS News, the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center accused Santos, a Republican from New York, of illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses, including for an apartment rental, and for submitting false information about both the source of his campaign donations and his campaign’s expenses.
The D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center questioned how Santos was able to make a sizeable donation to his own campaign in the months before he won a competitive House race on Long Island.
It sounds like the Campaign Legal Center didn’t have to do very much digging to generate this request. All they really needed were his campaign finance disclosure filings (which were already available online) and some videos or transcripts of many of Santos’ campaign trail speeches and interviews. It’s also worth noting that this is almost certainly not some left-wing partisan witch hunt. The CLC was founded by a former Republican Chairman of the FEC.
The group is asking the FEC to investigate some of the glaringly obvious questions that many of us have already been posing. At the top of the list is how Santos was able to “loan” his own campaign more than $700,000 last year when his own disclosure forms showed he was only worth a total of $55K barely a year earlier. I mean, if the guy hit the Lotto in a big way, fine. But produce the ticket for us if you’re going to use the cash in a channel regulated by the FEC.
The CLC also suggested the possibility (without making a direct accusation) that the $705,000 he loaned himself could have come from “a corporation or foreign national.” If the original source of the money falls into either of those two categories, then he would have violated the regulations in a big way and he could very possibly be removed from office by his peers.
The complaint also points out that the Santos campaign listed dozens of expenses valued at $199.99. That’s not illegal in and of itself, but it’s conveniently and coincidentally (I’m sure) only one penny lower than the $200 threshold for expenses requiring the campaign to provide receipts. One of those expenses was listed as a ‘Hotel Stay,’ at the W Hotel South Beach of Miami, Florida last October. But the CLC points out that the cheapest room available at that hotel at the time cost more than $700 per night. Something doesn’t smell right here.
Nothing about Santos’ campaign finances adds up or matches the answers that he’s given in multiple interviews. One senior executive at the CLC summed it up nicely. He said that politicians can lie about their backgrounds and their resume without breaking the law. But “deceiving voters about your campaign’s funding and spending is a serious violation of federal law.” Thus far, the FEC has not commented on the complaint beyond saying that “all FEC enforcement matters are kept confidential until they’re resolved.”