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NY War Room: ICYMI – New York Times Highlights George Santos’ Suspicious Campaign Finance Report Including an $85,000 Reimbursement

July 17, 2023

New York, NY – In case you missed it, the New York Times reported that serial fraudster George Santos’ recently filed campaign finance report showed a significant amount of funds being used to pay himself back, among a number of eyebrow-raising details.

Additionally, most of the funds “came from an unorthodox network of about 180 donors scattered across the country” with “the vast majority of donors reported living outside Mr. Santos’s Queens and Long Island district” and “few of whom had made large political donations in the past.”

“With the negligible number of in-district donors, the people of NY-03 have again rejected fraudster George Santos, ” HMP New York Press Secretary Alisha Heng said. “It is evident that his days in office are numbered due to his deceitful actions and 13-count federal indictment even as he continues to fundraise to reimburse his expenses from running a hoax of a campaign.”

Read the full article below.

“Representative George Santos, the New York Republican facing federal criminal charges, raised about $179,000 for his re-election campaign from April through June — a modest sum that he used in large part to pay back money he had lent to his past congressional bids.

Much of the money, which came from an unorthodox network of about 180 donors scattered across the country, arrived after Mr. Santos’s indictment, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

Some said they gave as a gag, but others sought to reward Mr. Santos’s stalwart stance against the Chinese Communist Party or his conservative views. The vast majority of donors reported living outside Mr. Santos’s Queens and Long Island district.

Mr. Santos used $85,000 of the money on May 30 to repay himself. He had previously reported giving his own campaign more than $700,000 in personal loans.

The fund-raising figures, the first since Mr. Santos officially began his re-election bid, were strikingly weak for a candidate in a competitive swing district. They underscored the steep political path before him as both Democrats and leaders of his own party try to remove him next year.

One of the Democratic candidates for his seat, Zak Malamed, announced that he had taken in $417,000 in just the first six weeks of his campaign, nearly three times Mr. Santos’s total. Kellen Curry, a Republican primary challenger, reported raising more than $200,000.

Mr. Santos’s totals were also dwarfed by those raised by other frontline Republicans in New York, who are gearing up for some of the most closely contested races in the country next year.

Filings showed that Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican who narrowly flipped a Hudson Valley seat by defeating Sean Patrick Maloney, the powerful head of House Democrats’ campaign arm, raised just over $900,000 during the three-month period, much of it from PACs.

The figure made him one of the most successful freshman fund-raisers in the country, and left his campaign with $1.5 million in cash.

Other first-term Republicans in New York and New Jersey swing districts — including Representatives Marcus Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams and Tom Kean Jr. — had not yet reported their totals by Friday afternoon.

The campaign of Representative Pat Ryan, a Hudson Valley Democrat whom Republicans hope to unseat, said it had raised more than $625,000, down from more than $1 million raised in the previous quarter.

The recent contributions to Mr. Santos — $162,031.52 to his campaign and $16,600 to an affiliated committee, Devolder Santos Victory Committee — are almost certain to be scrutinized by federal prosecutors and the House Ethics Committee.

(The Santos campaign reported earlier Friday having raised somewhat less money from fewer donors, but the campaign updated its filing on Friday evening, citing incomplete information provided by previous treasurers.)

Mr. Santos’s donors included a part-time cashier from Georgia, students from Pennsylvania and California, a masseuse from Texas and a member of a stage crew from New York, who all gave at least $3,300 each.

The Times reached out to more than 40 donors listed on Mr. Santos’s filing, few of whom had made large political donations in the past. Many had Chinese or other Asian surnames and donated around two dates, in late May and late June.

Mr. Santos has repeatedly linked his fund-raising appeals to his opposition to the Chinese Communist Party, as well as his support for Guo Wengui, the exiled Chinese billionaire and Steve Bannon ally with a global legion of followers.

Mr. Santos has directly solicited support on Gettr, a conservative social media site financed by Mr. Guo and used by many of his followers. Mr. Guo, who also goes by the names Miles Guo and Miles Kwok, is facing legal jeopardy of his own, after federal prosecutors say he bilked his supporters out of more than $1 billion.

At least two donors said Mr. Santos’s opposition to the Chinese Communist Party had moved them to contribute the legal maximum, and a relative of a third donor indicated that the person was a follower of Mr. Guo.

“I see him want to take down C.C.P.,” said Xuehong Zhang of Plano, Texas, who identified herself as a Chinese immigrant and said she had learned about Mr. Santos on Gettr, though she did not mention Mr. Guo. “I just want to take down C.C.P.”

Others said they found Mr. Santos’s conservative voting record appealing, and were stirred to support him by what they viewed as hypocritical attacks.

“You’ve got the dirtiest of the dirty calling him dirty. That’s hypocrisy,” said Ronald Bucina of Prospect, Tenn., who gave $50. “They’ve stolen more money than George Santos was ever going to dream of stealing.”

Charles Scheferston, a retired New York City detective who lives in Rockville Centre, N.Y., and also gave $50, said the congressman was “probably guilty” and had lied “like crazy,” but that he liked his policy stances. “You cannot lie about a voting record,” he said.

Not everyone contributed in earnest.

Michael Sommer, a 29-year-old teacher in Atlanta, said he spent $32.95 on a Santos for Congress T-shirt “for a joke.”

Brad Mason of Pittsburgh donated $1. “I thought it would be really funny to request the refund,” he said. “And it was amazing for me.”

Stockpiling cash could prove unusually important for Republican incumbents this year if New York is forced to redraw its congressional districts. An appeals court on Thursday ordered a redraw that could make a handful of seats virtually unwinnable for Republican incumbents. The case will be appealed.

Mr. Santos announced his re-election campaign in April, even as local Republican officials and party committees said they would not support him. The next month, he was indicted on 13 felony counts, including wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.

He has pleaded not guilty, but the case further diminished his support from House Republican leadership. Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California told Fox News last month that the party planned to “keep that seat with another Republican.”

Mr. Santos’s fund-raising totals were an improvement over what he took in during the first quarter of the year, when his campaign raised just $5,300.

His expenses were fairly limited outside of his loan repayment. Though he paid legal and consulting fees, he did not report paying any staff or renting an office.