The bad news just keeps coming for embattled New York Rep. George Santos, who is now the subject of an FBI investigation into accusations he stole charity money intended to help a Navy veteran’s dying service dog, Politico reports.
Richard Osthoff, of Howell, New Jersey, told the outlet that two FBI agents reached out to him on Wednesday, Feb. 1, as part of an investigation by the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
- Earlier Report: Bye George: Embattled Nassau Rep Santos Stepping Down 'Temporarily' From Committee Assignments
Osthoff told Politico he gave the agents copies of text messages he reportedly had with the now Republican lawmaker in 2016 when Santos allegedly helped raise the $3,000 needed to pay for his dog’s life-saving surgery on GoFundMe before disappearing with the money.
At the time, Osthoff was homeless and suffering from depression and PTSD after being honorably discharged from the Navy in 2002, he previously told Patch. The pit bull mix, named Sapphire, died in January 2017.
“I’m glad to get the ball rolling with the big-wigs,” Osthoff told Politico. “I was worried that what happened to me was too long ago to be prosecuted.”
Santos, who represents the state’s 3rd District on Long Island’s North Shore and parts of Queens, later denied the allegation in a post on Twitter.
“The reports that I would let a dog die is shocking & insane,” he said. “My work in animal advocacy was the labor of love & hard work… These distractions won’t stop me!”
News of the FBI probe came one day after Santos announced that he was stepping down from two House committees amid investigations into his personal and campaign finances.
In a statement Tuesday, Jan. 31, the freshman Republican lawmaker said he had submitted a request to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to be "temporarily recused" from his assignments to the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and the Small Business Committee "until I am cleared."
Also on Tuesday, Santos’ longtime campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, told the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that she was resigning from his campaign and related committees, Politico reports.
Santos has found himself embroiled in controversy since admitting that he lied about much of his background in the lead-up to the 2022 midterm elections, including where he worked and went to school.
Since being sworn into office on Saturday, Jan. 7, Santos has seen House Democrats file a complaint against him with the House Ethics Committee demanding an investigation into his financial disclosure reports.
A nonprofit group has also filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), accusing Santos of illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses and hiding the sources of his campaign donations.
Santos is also facing investigations by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
A recent Siena College poll found that among New York’s registered voters, nearly two-thirds of Democrats and 59 percent of independents think Santos should resign. A strong plurality of Republicans, 49 percent, also said he should step down. Just 17 percent of voters think he should remain in office.
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