The curtain could fall as soon as this week on the congressional career of freshman Rep. George Santos, whose defiance in the face of overwhelming accounts of brazen lying has made him one of the most notorious lawmakers this year.
News outlets uncovered the first lies tied to his campaign soon after his election. Federal prosecutors charged him on 23 felony counts related to that campaign. And the House Ethics Committee released a highly critical report on Nov. 16 that detailed how even his own staff thought he needed to seek treatment for his constant lying.
Santos, whose staple Capitol Hill dress in a sweater underneath a suit jacket was part of a “Saturday Night Live” send-up, has twice survived House pushes to boot him from office. But at least one effort to expel him from Congress is on tap this week in the wake of the ethics panel report.
The New York Republican said in a lengthy and profane X Spaces session on Nov. 24 that he won’t resign and that he anticipates being expelled from the House.
If that happens, he would be only the sixth member ever to be expelled from the House, and the only one on that list without ties to the Confederacy or a conviction in court.
As the House mulls its gravest attempt yet at kicking Santos out this week, here’s a rundown of what the Ethics Committee, federal prosecutors and public reporting has borne out about perhaps the most baffling member in recent history.
The House Ethics Committee report said the panel skipped some procedural steps and immediately disclosed its findings out of a “duty to safeguard the integrity of the House and the interests of justice.”
The report pointed out the sheer totality of the accusations. Several members filed complaints about Santos to the panel and resolutions to expel him. Federal prosecutors have ongoing criminal cases against Santos and others on his campaign, and the Federal Election Commission is investigating.
“As such, the integrity of the House has been called into question in a significant and overt manner that the Committee cannot ignore,” the report states.
The committee considers the scope of violations involving Santos “highly unusual and damning,” found that the transgressions are fundamental to the electoral process and pointed to how his untruths continue.
The report could provide some cover for members who were hesitant on the previous two measures to expel Santos from Congress. And this time one resolution has been introduced by Ethics Chairman Michael Guest, R-Miss.
The report found Santos’ campaign finance reports littered with errors and omissions, including evidence that Santos used campaign money for himself at Ferragamo stores, Atlantic City resorts and Hermes, among others, which would be a violation of federal law.
Santos spent around $6,000 in campaign funds at Ferragamo, made an $800 ATM withdrawal inside a casino and used campaign money on his rent, according to the report.
The campaign made taxi and hotel purchases in December 2021 in Las Vegas, during a time when Santos informed campaign staff he was on his honeymoon and there were no corresponding campaign events on his calendar, the committee found.
Santos spent $2,281 in two days at Atlantic City, N.J., resorts in July 2022, a stretch wherein Santos had one event on his campaign calendar, the report states. A former employee told the panel that Santos enjoyed playing roulette at casinos.
That same month, the campaign paid $1,400 at Virtual Skin Spa in Jericho, N.Y., and separately spent $3,332 for an Airbnb expense where his campaign schedule said he was in the Hamptons for the weekend, the report states.
The ethics panel found several spa and cosmetic services paid for by campaign funds that didn’t appear to have a campaign nexus. For the 2020 campaign Santos spent $1,500 at Mirza Aesthetics, a purchase that wasn’t reported to the FEC and was described as “Botox” in expense spreadsheets given to the committee by Nancy Marks, a former campaign treasurer who has since pleaded guilty and admitted to conspiring with Santos to file false FEC reports.
Another $1,400 was spent at Virtual Skin Spa for “Botox” in the documents produced by Marks. Another unreported $1,000 purchase was made to an esthetician associated with a spa in Rhinebeck, N.Y., the ethics panel reported.
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The Ethics Committee found that the systemic errors and omissions in Santos’ campaign reporting were more than just Marks’ fault, they “were part of an overall scheme to avoid transparency about his campaign’s finances.”
Large sums of money flowed from RedStone Strategies LLC — a company in which Santos was an authorized signer on the company’s checking and savings accounts — to Santos’ personal bank accounts, some of which went to Hermes and OnlyFans, an adult entertainment site.
In October 2022, a person using a RedStone email sought contributions under the guise that they would be used to help Santos’ campaign, the report states. RedStone, which was not registered with the FEC, received two contributions from Santos campaign donors for a total of $50,000 and that money was transferred to Santos’ personal accounts, the report states.
Santos used that money to pay credit card bills, other debt, a $4,127 purchase at Hermes and other spending at OnlyFans and Sephora, the report states.
Santos received $176,298 in nonemployee compensation from RedStone, the Ethics report states.
Santos, who has been required to file financial disclosure statements with the House since his initial unsuccessful run in 2020, failed to file reports in 2021 and 2023, the panel said. Further, the panel found Santos has left off many important parts of his financial picture in additional reports.
This “tells a story of Representative Santos’ personal finances that is drastically different from what he disclosed on his FD Statements, and even more irreconcilable with the narrative he broadcast to his constituents, campaign supporters, and staff,” the committee said.
The panel said there was “substantial evidence” that personal loans were falsely reported by Santos’ campaign and leadership political action committee, GADS PAC, during the 2020 and 2022 elections and that Santos was “an active and knowing participant” in a scheme to falsely report personal loans during his campaign.
The alleged political fundraising scheme, financial disclosure issues and loan reporting problems are also laid out in the federal criminal indictment.
Though the committee didn’t recommend a form of discipline such as expulsion, censure or reprimand, it referred additional violations to the Justice Department.
The report also said many of Santos’ claims — that he was a grandson of Holocaust survivors, graduated from Baruch College on a volleyball scholarship, earned an MBA from NYU, worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, owned several properties, was the beneficiary of a family trust worth millions left by his mom who died from health effects derived from being present at one of the twin towers on 9/11—are lies.
Further, Santos was viewed by his own campaign staff as such a prolific liar that he was encouraged to seek treatment, the panel found.
Santos faces 23 criminal charges. In May, a 13-count indictment charged Santos with participating in a fraudulent political contribution solicitation scheme, an unemployment insurance fraud effort and filing false statements with the House.
In October, a superseding indictment tacked on 10 more charges against Santos alleging he filed fraudulent fundraising reports and charged donors’ credit cards without permission.
Prosecutors said Santos defrauded prospective donors by telling them the money would be used to support his campaign, but instead it went to Santos’ personal account. Two donors each contributed $25,000 to a company Santos controlled and that money went to Santos’ personal accounts and was spent on personal purposes, including on designer clothing, according to prosecutors.
Those dates and amounts line up with the Ethics Committee report about RedStone.
In February 2020, Santos, who was working at a Florida-based investment firm and making around $120,000 annually, applied for unemployment benefits through the New York State Department of Labor, prosecutors said, and continued to affirm he was eligible for the COVID-19 related unemployment benefits while he was working, resulting in him fraudulently getting over $24,000. Santos also misled the House on his financial disclosure forms, prosecutors said.
The more recent charges involve Santos inflating the amount of money his campaign was raising so he could get support from the national party and a scheme in which Santos used donors’ credit card information to go around FEC contribution limits and move money to himself, prosecutors said.
There is a lot of what is alleged by federal prosecutors in the Ethics report.
The Santos saga took off when The New York Times, after he was elected to represent the 3rd District of New York, broke the story that Santos fabricated his resume and built his successful run to the House on lies.
In May, Santos resolved a criminal case in Brazil involving a pair of shoes and a stolen checkbook in which he agreed to pay just under $5,000, a settlement that led prosecutors to drop the case, the Times reported.
That is derived from a 2008 incident when Santos entered a shop outside of Rio de Janeiro, and using a false name and stolen checkbook, bought a pair of athletic shoes and other goods, the newspaper reported.