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Campaign of Rep. George Santos refunds more money than it raises

The campaign of scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) reported refunding more money to donors than it raised during the past three months, raising questions about how seriously the freshman lawmaker is pursuing reelection.

In a report filed Sunday, the campaign listed about $17,000 in refunds to donors while reporting less than $674 in contributions during the 90-day period ending Sept. 30. After spending more than $42,000 during that stretch, the account has nearly $23,000 left, the campaign reported in a filing that included some inconsistencies in how it accounted for money raised and spent.

The filing also reported more than $120,000 in new debt, some of which, including legal and catering expenses, appeared to date from before the reporting period. Notes included in the report said the campaign’s treasurer had “becoime [sic] aware of prior debt.”

Such paltry fundraising figures are not typical for incumbents running in swing districts at this point in the election cycle, particularly when multiple challengers have already announced campaigns.

The Santos campaign and its treasurer did not respond on Monday to an email seeking comment.

In May, Santos was charged with 13 financial crimes, including defrauding his donors, using their money for his personal benefit. A superseding indictment made public last week charged Santos with stealing the identities of family members and using donors’ credit cards to spend thousands of dollars.

Though his former campaign bookkeeper has pleaded guilty to several federal charges, include making false statements and obstructing federal campaign regulators, Santos has denied the charges against him. He is scheduled to appear on court on Oct. 27.

Santos has also rebuffed the latest rounds of calls to resign from fellow New York Republicans in Congress.

Santos is facing a daunting reelection challenge. At least eight Republicans and nine Democrats are raising money to unseat him, including his immediate predecessor, Democrat Tom Suozzi, who defeated him in his first run for office in 2020. Suozzi did not seek reelection in 2022, opting to run for governor.

On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Santos spent several hours on Saturday speaking to supporters in a wide-ranging Spaces discussion, touching on the Hamas attacks on Israel, the House Republicans’ ongoing struggle to elect a House speaker and his own political future.

At one point, he said he would resign if Republicans worked with Democrats to elect a House speaker.

“If my party goes into bed to elect the [Minority Leader] Hakeem Jeffries, or a coalition government that is dictated by the Democrats where we concede 50% of suspensions, I will be the first one to resign Congress and make sure that the majority is smaller,” he said, referring to the process by which broadly supported legislation is fast-tracked for approval.

“I pity the idiots who remotely think that they’re going to go ahead and build a coalition government with the Democrats,” he said.

One of Santos’s Republican colleagues who has called on him to resign, Rep. Marcus J. Molinaro (N.Y.), wrote on X that Santos’s stated threat to resign is most likely, “Because he knows once we have a speaker our resolution to expel him can proceed.”

Eight hard-line Republicans voted to oust the former House speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Oct. 3, and Republicans in the chamber, who hold a narrow majority over the Democrats, have been unable since then to rally around a replacement candidate.

At one point during the talk on Saturday, Santos, described his district with blunt and uncharacteristic terms. Speaking to one person on the platform, Santos said, “There’s no ghettos in my district, so that’s the problem.”

“Here’s the problem with my district, Christopher. Everybody’s filthy rich,” Santos added. The median household income in the district is about $130,000, according to the latest census data.

Shortly after Santos won his race in 2022, the New York Times revealed that Santos had lied about his work in the finance industry and having obtained two college degrees. The Washington Post and other outlets later reported he lied about attending a prestigious high school, could not verify his claim of being a descendant of Holocaust survivors, and has been accused of stealing money intended for a homeless veteran’s dying service dog.

Santos has admitted to lying about the colleges he attended, and cannot recall what name he used when he attended that prestigious high school, Horace Mann, but has said he has extensive experience working in finance. And in May, Santos confessed to a theft charge brought years earlier by prosecutors in Brazil, where he had spent time as a teenager.

On Saturday, Santos also described in more detail what led him to scream and curse at a man in Washington on Friday who asked him about the violence in the Middle East.

Santos said he was walking in the Longworth House Office Building, holding a 2-month-old infant who belonged to one of his staffers, when a man approached him asking about the violence in Gaza.

According to Santos on Saturday, the man asked him “what about the kids being killed” in Gaza, “to which I proceed to say I don’t care.”

Santos then told his supporters he continued walking down the hallway and entered another congressman’s office. He characterized the person who approached him as a “lunatic.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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