A report conducted in 2021 evaluating Rep. George Santos’ vulnerability raised questions about the embattled representative’s reputation and claims – long before he was elected to office – yet the report was never made public until now.
CBS News reported that multiple Santos aides found the report overwhelming, urging Santos to pull out of the race. When he didn’t, the aides quit instead.
According to Santos’s campaign finance records, CBS News said his campaign paid more than $16,600 to Capital Research Group, a Washington, DC-based firm. The report was commissioned earlier that fall.
Vulnerability reports are commonly used by political candidates to prepare themselves for the election battlefield.
Santo’s vulnerability report was obtained by CBS News and a portion of the report was published by the news source online for the first time Wednesday. The report was distributed to the public after being obtained by CBS News nearly two years after it was conducted. It had not been released to the public before.
The report includes information sourced in part from his social media accounts, raising questions about his marriage, his assertions that his family were victims of the Holocaust, his connections to companies that were accused of fraudulent activities and his campaign finance activities.
Efforts to contact Santos were unavailing.
Santos is currently facing a federal indictment, which includes seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to Congress. He has entered a not-guilty plea to the charges.
If convicted of the top charges, Santos could face up to 20 years in prison.
Unconfirmed reports have circulated that the congressman may take a plea deal in the wake of the Department of Justice delaying his last Thursday court appearance to late October to further discuss possible paths in the case.
Santos has admitted to lying about his education and work history, but he has not
addressed other inconsistencies and has equivocated when asked about his business dealings and how they related to his political efforts.
Federal prosecutors accused Santos of orchestrating a scheme to solicit political contributions that he used for personal expenses, of fraudulently receiving more than $24,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits while he was actually employed, and of knowingly making false statements on House financial disclosure forms.
The vulnerability report echoes some of these accusations, which found discrepancies in his claims of success as a financial adviser and his earned income of $55,000, which was lower than what he was claiming to have made.
The report also questions Santos’ funding of his campaign, with his 2020 campaign garnering top contributions from Michael Niamonitakis – a landlord who made it onto the New York City Public Advocate’s list of the worst landlords. It said Niamontakis received $165,000 in COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loans and donated $52,500 in political contributions.
Court documents in Brazil that were first reported by The New York Times also state that Santos, who was 19 at the time, used a fake name and stolen checks to purchase a pair of sneakers, among other goods, from a store in Niterói, located outside Rio de Janeiro.
Two years later, Santos confessed to the crime and was later charged, according to The Times.
Santos is also being investigated by the House Ethics Committee.
Santos claimed to have graduated from New York University with an MBA and a bachelor of economics and finance from Baruch College, yet the vulnerability report found that his name was not in the records for either school’s registrar’s office.
The report also dives into Harbor City Capital, where Santos said he was a senior executive, and accusations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was part of a Ponzi scheme. The SEC shut down the company in 2021.
The report includes a comment from a video where Santos says that the company is “well-led” and has amazing leadership.
According to the report, Santos was still working at Harbor City Capital when the Alabama Securities Commission filed a cease-and-desist order against the company and CEO for fraudulent practices and advertising unrealistic returns on investments that did not exist.
The report also questions Santos’ marriage to ex-wife Uadla Vieira and said her immigration status is unclear at the time of their marriage.
It also reveals that Santos was dating and living with a man deemed an “illegal immigrant” while still married to Vieira. The report cites this finding through Santos’ social media posts.
One of Santos’s top former aides, Naysa Woomer, spoke out Friday in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, explaining that she resigned from his office in light of his indictment. She said she was confident in her decision after previously stating that it was an honor to resign.
“This is where you have to as a communications professional recognize that you are no longer going to be able to control the messaging,” Woomer said on MSNBC.
Woomer joined Santos’ office after he was elected but before The Times published the first article exposing Santos’ lies during his campaign.
She said that she suggested Santos go on an “apology tour” in order to give his constituents confidence in his abilities to serve them and explain his past lies. She said it was a problem when he made media appearances and never apologized for his actions.
Woomer said the charges he faces are “very concerning” and it is a matter of waiting to see how his case plays out in court and the determination made by the House Ethics Committee.