At this point, on what front isn’t George Santos under investigation?
Santos, the first-term GOP Congressman from New York who was caught lying about a large portion of his background, is now under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in connection to a years-old incident in which he raised thousands of dollars ostensibly to support a veteran’s sick dog — and then swiped from the money for himself. It’s unclear where it went and that the veteran, Richard Osthoff, ever got a cent. Osthoff said he was contacted Wednesday by FBI agents on behalf of that New York prosecutor’s office and provided investigators with copies of past text conversations he had with Santos.
Some of these messages’ contents were already publicly reported by CNN, which explained how Santos — who was using a different version of his name at the time — claimed various problems in actually securing the needed veterinary care for Osthoff’s dog and eventually wanted to take the dog for a purported vet visit without Osthoff even present. Santos separately claimed he had a tax-exempt charity working in animal welfare, but the IRS had no record of the organization holding such a status.
“I’m glad to get the ball rolling with the big-wigs,” Osthoff said this week. “I was worried that what happened to me was too long ago to be prosecuted.” Santos could end up with charges for fraud in connection to this incident, although it’s obviously unclear how the investigation will eventually conclude at this early stage. Steve Bannon, the longtime ally to Trump and prominent figure on the far-right, has faced criminal scrutiny over similar allegations after he and associates of his led a crowdfunding campaign ostensibly in support of building a wall along the southern border. Bannon and his associates took personal funds from what was donated, and although Trump pardoned him in the federal case before leaving office, Bannon was subsequently charged in New York.
As for Santos, he has voluntarily removed himself from his spots on committees in the new Congress, and it looks highly unlikely he’ll be in power beyond a single term, considering the recent poll that found over three-fourths of his constituents supported the idea of him resigning, including over 70 percent of Republicans. His potential exit from Congress, at least at the end of his current term, won’t end the probes, though.
He is also facing an investigation from the Justice Department into his campaign finances, where there are issues like hundreds of thousands of dollars it was originally claimed he personally loaned his campaign but that have an unclear origin. Mother Jones found donations totaling tens of thousands of dollars in support of his 2020 campaign may have been reported with false personal details, which could constitute additional crimes. In an example, an address claimed for two donors purportedly sharing a last name doesn’t exist, and there’s no record the outlet could find of anyone by their names living in the U.S. at all.