It’s a question that has dogged George Santos since he was forced to admit to lying about key biographical details.
“Where did the $700,000 come from?” a NY1 reporter asked the congressman just this week on Capitol Hill, receiving no response.
Now, newly filed updates to Santos’ campaign finance reports are making it harder to understand how he suddenly came into so much wealth that he was able to bankroll his successful bid for Congress with that $700,000.
What You Need To Know
- The congressman is no longer claiming the $500,000 he loaned his campaign last March and $125,000 he loaned it last October as “personal funds”
- Santos has said he earned money from his Devolder Organization company
- His company now appears to share the same address as a mailing-processing storefront in a strip mail
- Santos’ attorney, Joe Murray, told NY1 it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment on matters before the FEC
Among the 14 forms filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission are two amendments that show Santos is no longer claiming the $500,000 he loaned his campaign last March and $125,000 he loaned it last October as “personal funds.”
Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, told NY1 there is much to investigate in Santos’ finances.
“This all appears to be a money-laundering game to skirt the campaign finance laws, to enrich himself,” Muller said.
“The people it hurts the most, are the people of New York,” she added.
End Citizens United and other watchdog groups earlier this month filed complaints to the FEC urging that it look into where Santos got the funds and how he spent them.
In a NY1 review of Santos’ public financial records, it shows a winding map of how he moved money around.
As a 2020 candidate, he disclosed $55,000 in income but loaned $81,000 to his campaign.
By 2022, he was claiming millions of dollars in assets and an income of $750,000.
Santos loaned $705,000 to that ultimately successful bid.
“That is an astronomical growth in his wealth that is so implausible, so inexplicable that it requires willful suspension of belief,” Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the Bronx, told reporters outside Santos’ office earlier this month.
Torres and his fellow New York Democrat, Rep. Dan Goldman, are warning that the company Santos founded may be a shell.
Devolder Organization LLC was registered in Florida in May 2021, one month after Santos filed for candidacy for the second time.
It was dissolved administratively last September.
It was reinstated last December, one day after the New York Times investigation exposing his lies.
On Jan. 11, it filed an annual report that showed not much more than a change of address.
Devolder Organization, which Santos once claimed managed $80 million in assets, now appears to share the same address as a mailing-processing storefront in a strip mail with a Dollar Tree and a nail salon.
Santos has yet to explain his $700,000 loan — even in interviews with political allies.
“Where did it come from?” Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican who represents Florida, asked Santos earlier this month on a podcast.
“Well, I’ll tell you where it didn’t come from,” Santos said. “It didn’t come from China, Ukraine or Burisma. How ’bout that?”
Santos’ self-funding is especially puzzling since, according to the Times, he faced legal action between 2015 and 2018 over unpaid debts to a friend, evictions and credit card debt.
Campaign Legal Center has also lodged a complaint to the FEC over Santos’ finances.
The group’s director of federal campaign finance reform, Saurav Ghosh, told NY1, “All of that indicates that this isn’t real income but is actually money some outside source is giving him.”
Santos’ attorney, Joe Murray, told NY1 on Wednesday that it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment on matters before the FEC for review.
Also Wednesday, another batch of filings to the FEC showed Santos’ committees have changed treasurers to Thomas Datwyler.
But Datwyler’s attorney told NY1 his client did not authorize those forms and declined to serve on as Santos’ treasurer.