There’s always been a strong Wile E. Coyote vibe to George Santos’s arc across the American political landscape. If he just keeps pretending everything’s fine and nothing matters maybe he’ll never fall off the cliff? But on Tuesday he appears to have taken a step toward falling off the cliff.
At the center of the Santos story from the beginning has been the question of how he went from being a chronic deadbeat making $50,000 a year in 2020 to making millions just two years later from his company, The Devolder Organization. He made so much that he could loan his own campaign almost three-quarters of a million dollars. Now finally we may have an answer. That money he loaned his campaign? Well, it wasn’t actually his money.
First noted by Roger Sollenberger at The Daily Beast, Santos filed amended campaign finance reports Tuesday in which he continues to say that he loaned his campaign $500,000 and $125,000. But now he says the money wasn’t his “personal funds.”
On the forms there’s a checkbox you check to confirm that the money you’re loaning is your “personal funds.” On the new forms submitted Tuesday those boxes are now unchecked. So the forms still say they were loans from Santos. Only the money he loaned his campaign wasn’t his money. And he’s not saying whose it was.
That’s not how it works. If you loan money to your campaign it has to be your money. If it’s not your money, it’s not you loaning money to the campaign. Critically, because it’s not your money, you cannot loan or donate unlimited funds to your campaign. If I’m George and some pal wants to give me money so that I can donate or loan it (same difference) to my campaign, that’s treated as a donation from the pal to the campaign and all the hard money limits apply.
Santos now seems to be saying that he was a straw donor, to the tune of $625,000 to his own campaign.
Both these new forms and for that matter Santos himself are so absurd that I guess we can’t completely rule out the possibility that this is a clerical error? That they just inadvertently forgot to check that box this time? That theory seems basically preposterous. But I can’t totally rule it out because he seems to be admitting to several major crimes in this new filing.
Campaign reports get amended all the time. But at this scale and with this level of deception, I don’t think you can just refile in this way and make it fine any more than you’re off the hook for robbery if you just give the stuff back once you get caught. It’s a major infraction.