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NY Rep. Santos Hid Donation Sources, Spent Campaign Cash On Personal Expenses: Complaint

Freshman New York Rep. George Santos speaks at a campaign event in the Little Neck neighborhood of Queens in September 2022.
Freshman New York Rep. George Santos speaks at a campaign event in the Little Neck neighborhood of Queens in September 2022. Photo Credit: Facebook/George Santos for Congress NY-3

New York Congressman George Santos - already the subject of local, state, federal, and international investigations after admitting that he lied about his background on the campaign trail - is now facing a formal ethics complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), CBS News reports

A civil complaint filed Monday, Jan. 9, by the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center accuses Santos, a Republican representing the 3rd District on Long Island’s North Shore and parts of Queens, of illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses, according to the outlet.

The complaint also accuses Santos of concealing the sources of his campaign donations, calling into question how he was able to make a $705,000 loan to his campaign despite financial disclosure reports showing that the 34-year-old only made $55,000 in 2020.

"The concealed true source behind $705,000 in contributions to Santos's campaign could be a corporation or foreign national — both of which are categorically barred from contributing to federal candidates,” CBS News quoted the complaint as saying.

Also highlighted in the complaint are several expenses for $199.99 that are listed by Santos’ campaign finance reports, the outlet says. That amount is noticeably just below the $200 threshold that requires campaigns to provide receipts and itemized details to the FEC.

"The sheer number of these just-under-$200 disbursements is implausible, and some payments appear to be impossible given the nature of the item or service covered,” CBS News quoted the complaint as saying.

"Voters deserve the truth,” Adav Noti, the Campaign Legal Center’s senior vice president, told CBS News.

“They have a right to know who is spending to influence their vote and their government and they have a right to know how the candidates competing for their vote are spending those funds.”

If the FEC determines that a violation occurred, Santos could face a civil penalty.

Santos was officially sworn into office Saturday, Jan. 7, after weeks of uproar from both parties following a bombshell New York Times report that accused him of lying about key aspects of his background, including his Jewish ancestry.

The freshman lawmaker later admitted to the New York Post that he “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, despite previously claiming so.

He also copped to never graduating from any college, even though on the campaign trail he claimed to have obtained a degree from Baruch College in 2010.

“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he told The Post.

Santos, who was born to Brazilian immigrants in Jackson Heights, Queens, made history as the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican and the first Brazilian-American elected to Congress.

His Democratic opponent in the midterm elections, Robert Zimmerman, has since called on Santos to resign and face an election do-over.

Click here for the full report from CBS News

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