The House Ethics committee report on Rep. George Santos (R-NY) that was released on Thursday is quite a read. Investigators from the committee compiled over 170,000 pages of documents and testimony from witnesses, including members of Santos’ campaign team and congressional staff. They concluded that Santos was at the center of a “complex web of unlawful activity” as he “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.” The report describes Santos spinning through various alleged schemes and lies as he obtained funds for everything from casino trips to cosmetic procedures, while dealing with personal credit card debt and negative bank balances.
Santos responded to the stunning report on the site formerly known as Twitter where he called it a “disgusting politicized smear” and announced he would not run for re-election next year “as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.” He did not respond to a text message from TPM asking if he could refute any of the specific evidence described in the report.
TPM was first to report on some of the core allegations in the report including the committee’s focus on a supposed consulting firm Santos set up to work with other campaigns and allegations he charged donors’ credit cards without authorization. House investigators were clear that they did not look into some areas — including the credit card scheme — to avoid conflicting with an ongoing federal criminal investigation that has already led to charges against Santos and his former campaign treasurer. The committee also stopped short of recommending Santos’ expulsion or beginning formal procedures for a sanction. Nevertheless, citing the fact that the case was “unprecedented in many respects,” the investigators recommended referring their findings to the DOJ and making them public.
The resulting report will surely provide ammunition to the members of Congress — including some of Santos’ fellow Republicans — who have been pushing for him to be expelled. It also provides a scintillating read.
We already knew a ton about Santos’ corruption, but there is so much more. Here are some of the wildest revelations from the House Ethics Committee report.
An ‘Untouchable’ Treasurer And Questionable Transactions
As he has faced criminal charges and public scrutiny for the alleged financial improprieties in his election operation, Santos has tried to lay blame elsewhere. Namely, he has pointed the finger at his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, who pleaded guilty last month to charges related to her work on his team. However, House investigators rejected this defense and said “he was a knowing and active participant in the misconduct.” Specifically, the report said Santos “had login credentials to access the campaign’s bank accounts online” and that he responded to staffers who raised concerns about Marks by saying she was “untouchable.” The report also detailed how money from the campaign flowed directly into accounts controlled by Santos where it was used for, among other things, “about $6,000 worth of purchases at Ferragamo stores,” cash withdrawals at casinos and ATMs near Santos’ home, and paying Santos’ rent.
Worried Staff Wanted Santos To ‘Seek Treatment’
TPM has reported on revolts within Santos’ campaign team. The Ethics Committee uncovered further details, including that “members of Representative Santos’ own campaign staff viewed him as a ‘fabulist,’ whose penchant for telling lies was so concerning that he was encouraged to seek treatment.” Investigators also described how the staff put together a “vulnerability report” detailing how Santos’ questionable financial disclosures and ties to alleged pyramid schemers could hurt his political career. Santos brushed off those concerns and said the internal report was “not worrisome,” according to investigators.
‘Definitely A High Roller’
The investigators noted Santos’s campaign “incurred significant travel expenses for flights, hotels, Ubers, and meals” and revealed how many of these charges lined up with his recreational activity rather than political events. The report specifically described “several specific expenditures as raising concerns of potential personal use of campaign funds: $2,281.52 spent at resorts in Atlantic City from July 23 to July 24, 2022; $1,400 at Virtual Skin Spa in Jericho, New York in July 2022, and $225 at CityMD in Huntington, New York on August 27, 2022.”
Other expenses were detailed in a chart titled “Examples of Personal Use” that was attached to the report. These included $1,084.99 at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, $659.99 at Caesar’s, and $1,500 at a business called “MAX Pets.”
The report specifically noted that “spa services and/or cosmetic procedures could not be verified as having a campaign nexus” and revealed that Marks had identified some of these charges as going to “Botox” in documents that she turned over to the committee. TPM previously revealed Santos’ predilection for spending on Botox treatments in a February 2023 story based on leaked audio from his office.
Following The Money
Several complex cash flows were tracked by the House Ethics Committee investigators. Some of the criminal charges against Santos relate to loans he reported giving to his campaign when he did not actually have the funds. Those allegedly fraudulent loans helped Santos receive funding and logistical support from Republican Party organizations. According to the committee, Santos also had his campaign pay him back “for four campaign loans, totaling $29,200, that were not made.”
The committee also revealed that the campaign engaged in “unreported transfers worth over $50,000” with RISE, a PAC based in New York. As TPM previously described, that organization paid Santos’ sister and some of his other associates.
As TPM exclusively revealed earlier this month, a consulting firm connected to Santos that worked for the campaign of far-right congressional hopeful Tina Forte was a major focus of the House Ethics Committee investigation. Santos and his associates collected substantial sums from Forte and other local Republican candidates after he allegedly directed other aspiring politicians to firms without disclosing his own connections to them. The House Ethics Committee report, which included some of the same text messages previously uncovered by TPM, described how one of these consulting firms, RedStone, subsequently deposited “at least $200,000” in Santos’ personal accounts and how some of that money was used “to, among other things: pay down personal credit card bills and other debt; make a $4,127.80 purchase at Hermes; and for smaller purchases at Only Fans; Sephora; and for meals and for parking.”
Messy Personal Finances
While Santos was supposedly making huge loans to his campaign, committee investigators found that many of his personal bank accounts were actually in the red with negative balances, amid his alleged spending on casino trips, cosmetic procedures, and luxury goods. Despite his precarious personal finances, Santos apparently tried his hand at day trading, per tax filings obtained by the committee. The tax documents, which were included in exhibits attached to the report, appear to show Santos buying and selling meme stocks including GameStop and AMC over the course of several days in March and April 2021.
Another major focus of the report was the required personal financial disclosures Santos filed with the House. According to the committee, Santos failed to file the report for 2021 and this year. Investigators described his report from last year as “egregiously riddled with errors, omissions, and misleading information” that was “part of an ongoing ruse by Representative Santos to fabricate a wealthy persona.” The report noted that Santos has made “myriad excuses” when asked to correct errors and file his current report, including asking for extra time and that “neither Representative Santos nor any individual authorized to assist him with his FD Statements has logged into the House Financial Disclosure system since his extension request was filed in May 2023.”
A Dispute In Santos’ Office
Along with all of the financial improprieties associated with Santos, the Ethics Committee investigated a sexual misconduct allegation against the congressman. That accusation was leveled by Derek Myers, a man who had a brief and chaotic stint with Santos’ team. This was the one instance where the investigators exonerated Santos. They noted that there was “not substantial reason to believe that Representative Santos sexually harassed or discriminated against” Myers. However, even as they cleared Santos in that matter and praised him for cooperating with that portion of the investigation, the investigators noted it put his refusal to provide documents and testimony related to other aspects of the probe in a harsher light. Investigators suggested this discrepancy showed “his willingness to comply … turned on whether he believed doing so was in his personal interest.”
The Imaginary Sports Car
Shortly after his election last year, Santos ended up making headlines due to revelations he lied about many aspects of the made up stories he told on the campaign trail. He made it to Congress after telling an incredible tale that positioned him as a descendant of Holocaust survivors who managed to become a wealthy financier. None of that was true and, while he has denied criminal wrongdoing, Santos has admitted he “lied.”
Multiple investigations into Santos and much of the testimony from people in his orbit who have talked to investigators and to TPM have indicated that he was intent on bolstering the false perception of wealth. Investigators from the Ethics Committee found further indications of Santos’ frantic efforts to convince the world he was a man of means, including false claims that he owned multiple properties and a luxury car. The report summed up that last fantasy in a single, brutal sentence: “At no point does Representative Santos appear to have owned a Maserati, despite telling campaign staff otherwise.”