George Santos promised reporters a surprise on Tuesday. When he brought coffee and donuts it was a letdown for the journalists guarding his office. But Santos apparently had another surprise.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Santos’ political operation spawned a deluge of altered campaign finance reports, telling the FBI, among other things, that a $500,000 loan he made to his campaign did not, in fact, come out of his personal funds, as he claimed. had done. previously claimed.
While, however, the new amended filing told us where the money went not came from, it also raised a new question: where did the money from?
While both the old and new campaign filings claim the loans came “from the candidate,” the campaign’s most recent amended filing had the “candidate’s personal funds” box checked; on today’s new amended application, that box is not checked.
Another amended filing on Tuesday revealed that a $125,000 “loan from the candidate” at the end of October also failed to come from his “personal funds,” but like the $500,000 question did not say where the money came from, when the loan is due. was, or which entity, if any, backed the money.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Santos operation had solicited large political donations through an entity that was never registered with the Federal Election Commission. That entity appears to share a name – RedStone Strategies – with a private company that The Daily Beast previously reported was connected to Santos.
According to the Timea donor deposited a $25,000 check to Red Strategies in late October, just days before Santos loaned his campaign $125,000 — money he now says the FEC came from the candidate, but not from his personal funds.
“The person who approached the donor said that in the weeks leading up to the campaign, Mr. Santos had asked him to approach donors, some of whom had already given the maximum amount allowed to Mr. Santos’ election campaign, and to assist in coordinating their donations to RedStone, according to a person familiar with the scheme who wishes to remain anonymous,” the Time reported.
Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of government watchdog Documented and a campaign finance expert, first questioned the source of Santos’ “self-funded” campaign bankroll of $705,000 last month in a Daily Beast report.
Santos has previously admitted to using cash from his company, the Devolder Organization LLC, to fund his campaign — a move that legal experts say could add up to an illegal corporate contribution of $705,000. Santos confirmed to The Daily Beast last month that he had withdrawn money from his company specifically to support his campaign, reasoning that he was the sole owner of the company. (However, the LLC is not a “sole proprietorship,” and its accounts are different from Santos’ personal accounts.)
Santos made the same claim in a WABC radio interview, saying the loans were “the money I paid myself through the Devolder organization.” (Santos’ most recent financial disclosure shows a $750,000 salary from the Devolder Organization, along with dividends worth $1 million to $5 million.)
Today, Fischer said the attempted correction “isn’t half a measure — it’s barely even a quarter measure.”
“I don’t know what they think they’re doing,” Fischer told The Daily Beast after reviewing the documents. “Santos’ campaign may have ticked the ‘candidate’s personal funds’ box, but it is still being reported that the $500,000 came from Santos himself. If the ‘loan from candidate’ is not actually from the candidate, then Santos must be honest and disclose where the money really came from. Santos can’t uncheck a box and make his legal troubles go away.”