Even in the deep and murky annals of congressional corruption, there’s no one quite like Rep. George Santos (R-NY). Who else, after all, could hope to match the sheer mendacity or the brazenness of his alleged scams?
Santos has put himself forward as a martyr and victim of Deep State conspiracy even as investigators and reporters — including the team at TPM — have tracked a money trail with funds seemingly getting taken from his donors’ pockets and spent on various excesses including luxury goods, cosmetic treatments, and gambling. It’s as if Santos were a planetary convergence of political scandal, a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of grifting, lying, and adopting a perpetually scandalized tone in response to it all. He is the ultimate reflection of MAGA-era Republican politics, the corruption of an entire political moment made incarnate in one person.
And, of course, as faithful readers know, TPM has been at the forefront of breaking news about and chronicling Santos’s unprecedented scandalousness the whole way. Our coverage began late last year with exposés on Santos’ murky past at a company that the SEC characterized as a “classic Ponzi scheme” and the network of Florida shell companies he ran with former associates. We moved on to break a series of critical stories including breaking the news of financial improprieties that ultimately were core parts of both the criminal case against Santos and the House Ethics Committee probe.
TPM has always been dedicated to exposing and reveling in political corruption, hypocrisy, and the dangers of the far-right. All of that makes Santos one of the most classic TPM stories ever and we played a leading role in covering what was unpacked in today’s report:
- Back in January, TPM was the first and only outlet to report allegations that donors to Santos reported tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on their credit cards from his campaign after initially contributing. Federal prosecutors brought fraud charges against Santos over the scheme in October.
- This month, TPM exclusively reported that the Ethics Committee was focusing on allegations that Santos scammed another Republican congressional campaign. Our article included previously unreleased text messages that showed Santos feuding with a Republican operative who told him to “lay off being a liar.” The campaign meltdown was a major part of the House report, which included some of the text exchanges that first appeared on our site.
- Much of the Ethics Committee report focused on Santos’ wild spending and bizarre accounting gimmicks, exposing payments made from his campaign coffers on personal expenses like Botox, Atlantic City resorts, and luxury brands Hermes and Ferragamo. According to the investigators, some of these irregularities prompted staffers to resign. TPM was way ahead on the financial improprieties and chaos on Team Santos. We first reported on Santos’ outrageous campaign spending in January in a story that featured interviews with GOP operatives who briefly worked for the campaign before resigning, noting that “things were not on the up and up.” Some of the complex transactions that steered money from donors to Santos’ personal accounts involved RISE NY PAC, a New York state political committee, which Santos operated with his sister. TPM was ahead on that front too. Back in January, we noted how the obscure local committee funneled cash to Santos’ sister and other associates.
- Amid our scoops and investigations we have reveled in the more colorful details of one of Capitol Hill’s wildest scandals. This included introducing the world to key players on Santos’ House staff, publishing leaked audio that showed just how strange it got in Santos’ office, and conducting an interview with the embattled congressman’s Botox doctor.
Santos’ story isn’t over yet. As the drama continues to unfold, TPM will stay ahead of the curve on Santos and the broader world of MAGA malfeasance that made his rise possible.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
The bonus: We Talked To George Santos’ ‘Botox’ Doctor
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
What We Are Reading
Elon Musk’s Disturbing ‘Truth’ — The Atlantic