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Ethics chairman to seek Santos’ expulsion after report finds new violations; Santos says he won’t seek reelection

U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) leaves the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol Building on Nov. 14, 2023, in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives voted on a series of bills including an interim spending bill it passed to fund the government, which will now go to the Senate for consideration.   (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Chris Marquette CQ-Roll Call

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee found substantial evidence that Rep. George Santos committed additional violations of criminal law, including misreporting loans from the 2020 campaign and other reporting violations, according to a report released Thursday.

Ethics Chairman Michael Guest said after the committee’s report was released that he would file a motion on Friday to expel Santos, R-N.Y., from the House. The panel referred the new violations material to the Justice Department.

Santos called the findings a “disgusting politicized smear” in a posting on X, formerly Twitter, but said he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2024. He faces 23 federal criminal charges.

“I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed,” he said. “I will however NOT be seeking re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.”

Guest, R-Miss., said the evidence in the report is “overwhelming and it’s proper to file a motion to expel George Santos from Congress.” The motion to expel would be the third move this year to kick Santos out of the House. The first, in May, was referred to the Ethics Committee and the second, this month, was rejected in a floor vote, with both Democrats and Republicans opposing the expulsion.

Guest said he would coordinate with leadership on when the measure will hit the floor and said it was “very likely when we come back” from Thanksgiving.

The committee said “Santos’ conduct warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought severe discredit upon the House.”

The panel’s investigative subcommittee report found that Santos “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit. He blatantly stole from his campaign.”

Santos “deceived donors” for his personal benefit, reported fake loans to induce donors to make more donations and then diverted more campaign funds to himself, the report said. Santos provided limited responses in the Ethics investigation and “evaded” its requests for information.

Santos’ claims that he was a descendant of Holocaust survivors, a graduate of Baruch College, an employee of Goldman Sachs and that his mother died from health issues derived from her presence at one of the towers on 9/11 were all found to be lies by the committee.

Two former Santos campaign employees — Nancy Marks and Samuel Miele — have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in the 2022 campaign. Santos has said he will fight the federal criminal charges he faces at trial and maintains his innocence.

In addition to the charges in Santos’ indictment, the panel found evidence he falsely reported loans received by his leadership political action committee, GADS PAC, more instances of using campaign money for himself, other iterations of failing to file a financial disclosure report with the House, this time for 2021 and 2023, along with errors and omissions in other reports.

Marks, the campaign treasurer for Santos, has admitted to conspiring with Santos to provide false campaign reports with the Federal Election Commission and the panel found that Santos was deeply involved in those actions.

Santos made personal loans during the 2020 and 2022 campaign cycles of nearly $800,000 to his campaign and $27,000 to his leadership PAC, GADS PAC, and the panel said it found substantial evidence that the reported loans were not made or properly disclosed to the FEC. Further, Santos was improperly repaid for loans that weren’t made, the panel said.

The report revealed many instances of Santos using campaign money for personal use, including many related to “spa services and/or cosmetic procedures” that the panel wasn’t able to verify as having a campaign purpose.

During the 2020 campaign, a $1,500 purchase at Mirza Aesthetics was not reported to the FEC and was described as “Botox” in expenses that Marks, the treasurer, gave to the campaign committee. And a $1,400 charge at Virtual Skin Spa to the campaign account was labeled as “Botox” in the records Marks turned over. A PayPal payment of $1,029 to an esthetician associated with a spa in Rhinebeck, N.Y., was not reported, the panel said.

The panel also said that Santos benefited from a fraudulent scheme involving RedStone Strategies LLC, a Florida-based company established in November 2021 and hired by Santos’ campaign. The company was paid over $110,000 for “digital consulting and fundraising” and “compliance consulting.”

RedStone was created after a congressional campaign committee raised complaints about Red Strategies USA LLC, another company associated with Santos. When a campaign staffer realized the company was owned by Santos, the campaign cut ties with RedStone.

In December 2021, a campaign staffer confronted Santos about Red Strategies.

“You pretended you didn’t even know the company when you actually own the company” and “you opened the company [M]ay 4th.” Santos denied having any ties to Red Strategies when he introduced the campaign to the company.

Money transferred from the RedStone account into Santos’ personal account was used to pay down Santos’ credit card bills, make a $4,127 purchase at Hermes and for smaller purchases at “Only Fans; Sephora; and for meals and for parking.”

“Representative Santos’ fraudulent activities through RedStone were one of many ways he sought to exploit his campaign, and the access to wealthy donors it afforded him, for his own personal profit,” the panel said.