A campaign finance watchdog organization has officially called on federal elections officials to investigate Rep. George Santos, the newly sworn in legislator for the 3rd District covering parts of Queens and Long Island. The complaint comes weeks after Santos admitted to a series of fabrications about his life story and experience during his campaign.
The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a 50-page complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Monday alleging the Santos campaign violated campaign finance laws by collecting donations through a straw donor scheme, intentionally violating mandatory disclosure requirements and misusing campaign money to pay for personal expenses, such as rent.
The potential FEC inquiry is yet another in a series of local and federal investigations into Santos’s conduct and comes while some constituents in his district repeatedly call for his resignation.
“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.
It cites reports in The New York Times that detail the numerous lies Santos told about his background including where he went to school, where he worked, his religion, as well as a report in Semafor about the sources of his sudden, newfound wealth.
In particular, the complaint focuses on the $705,000 loan Santos reported making to his campaign in the 2022 election cycle and questions how Santos had the funds to do that since his 2020 disclosure form only lists a $55,000 salary from LinkBridge Investors.
“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 [Devolder LLC], are vague, uncorroborated, and non-credible in light of his many previous lies,” the complaint said.
A spokesperson for the FEC said the Commission has received the complaint. While the FEC can not comment on the substance of an investigation, their process requires the Commission to notify respondents within five days of receiving a proper complaint. Then respondents have 15 days to respond. A full investigation can take several weeks.
Penalties for violating campaign finance law can include monetary fines as well referrals to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal violations.
Naysa Woomer, the communication director for Santos official congressional office, declined to comment on the complaint because it was a campaign matter. An email to his campaign was returned as undeliverable.
His attorney, Joe Murray, said he has not yet been contacted by any investigators.