Santos’ supposed new treasurer declined position before loan discrepancy

Santos’ supposed new treasurer declined position before loan discrepancy
U.S. Rep. George Santos. (Photo courtesy of Santos)

A supposed newly appointed treasurer for U.S. Rep. George Santos declined the position last week after the congressman’s team filed a modified campaign disclosure report that changed the source of a $500,000 loan previously claimed as “personal funds.”

Thomas Datwyler, of Wisconsin, reportedly turned down the campaign treasurer position on Monday despite Santos filing papers naming him to the position a day later, according to multiple reports. Datwyler’s attorney told multiple outlets his client turned down the job.

Financial disclosure reports Santos filed following the November election showed an outstanding balance of $630,000 on loans from his personal funds. He had originally listed a $705,000 loan to his campaign. Last week, Santos said, the modification of the $500,000 loan was a result of his staff’s doing.

“Let’s make it very clear, I don’t amend anything, I don’t touch any of my FEC stuff, right?” Santos told reporters last week. “So don’t be disingenuous and report that I did because you know that every campaign hires fiduciaries.”

Money that Santos listed as a loan in his campaign filings and its source have been questioned in complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission. Santos’ campaign lawyer, Joe Murray, told Newsday that “due to the FEC complaints it would be inappropriate to comment on an open investigation.”

Efforts to reach a representative from Santos’ congressional office for comment were unavailing.

Santos faces a pair of new complaints filed by a watchdog group and two of his Democratic colleagues from New York.

The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance democracy through the law, questioned the newly elected congressman’s influx of wealth after he reported a salary of $55,000 in 2020, which rose to $750,000 in 2022 and $1 million to $5 million in dividends.

The organization also called the congressman’s $705,000 loan to his campaign into question, claiming he falsified reports on nearly 40 expenditure filings under $200.

The center filed the complaint with the Federal Election Commission and to the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice several weeks ago.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee several weeks ago for allegedly violating the Ethics in Government Act, saying the Republican must be held accountable for deceiving voters and Congress.

The Ethics in Government Act, officials said, was created to “preserve and promote the integrity of public officials and institutions,” which Torres and Goldman believe Santos has failed to adhere to. The two described financial reports submitted in 2020 and 2022 as “sparse and perplexing” in the complaint.

Financial disclosures also showed that four political action committees with ties to Santos and his family contributed almost $185,000 to the Nassau County Republican Party, money that will be returned, according to Nassau Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo.

The Rise NY PAC contributed $64,225 to the Nassau GOP and $62,500 to the Town of Hempstead Republican Party. The Nassau GOP also received $47,966 from the Devolder Santos Nassau Victory Committee, $10,000 from the GADS (George Anthony Devolder Santos) PAC and $750 from Devolder-Santos For Congress.

Cairo told Newsday weeks ago that the Nassau GOP will return the Rise NY money, which totals $126,725 and reiterated the lack of support Santos has from the organization.

Over the past two years, Santos also donated thousands to Nassau County organizations and elected officials. 

Included in the filings is $500 to Elaine Philips’ campaign when she was running for Nassau County comptroller for an event donation, a personal contribution of $500 to the Sands Point-Port Washington Republican Committee, $750 to the Nassau County Republican Primary Campaign, $1,000 to D’Esposito’s campaign, $250 to the Glen Cove Knights of Columbus, $200 to the campaign for Vhibuti Jha, who ran for the state’s 16th Assembly District, and $500 to the campaign for Ruka Anzai, who ran for the state’s 13th Assembly District.

The Times reported that there are no records of where the funds from one of the biggest donors to Santos’ campaign went. RedStone Strategies received a $25,000 donation from an undisclosed donor via the company’s Wells Fargo account on Oct. 21, according to The Times. The company, described online as one composed of “experts in marketing and others in politics” listed the Devolder Organization, headed up by Santos, as a managing officer.

Another twist in the filings is that the Federal Election Commission has no record of RedStone Strategies, The Times reported.

“I don’t see a record by a committee of that name registered with the FEC, and our regulations would be if a political group raises more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election, they would be required to register with the FEC within 10 days,” Christian Hilland, a spokesman for the agency told The Times.

A Daily Beast report also claims the congressman “almost certainly” received a $500 campaign donation from Rocco Oppedisano, who was charged with smuggling 15 foreigners and $200,000 into the United States in 2019. Oppedisano’s family operates Il Bacco, the Little Neck restaurant where Santos also held his victory party at on Election Night. 

Financial disclosure reports showed Santos spent over $4,500 during 25 different visits to Il Bacco during the campaign cycle and showed the campaign owed the restaurant more than $18,000 for the Election Night event.

Oppedisano, an Italian national, was expelled from the country following the 2019 incident. Federal officials charged him with smuggling undocumented immigrants into the United States and with an attempt for him to re-enter the country illegally. 

Additionally, data from the Federal Election Commission revealed the Republican received nearly $30,000 in campaign donations from Andrew Intrater, the cousin of Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekslberg, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vekselberg, who was born in Ukraine, made his first million from selling scrap copper before purchasing several aluminum smelters and forming the conglomerate Sual Holding in 1996, according to Forbes. Vekselberg merged Sual Holding with Russian Alumnium to create UC Rusal.

The oligarch’s $90 million, 255-foot yacht was seized by the Spanish government in April at the order of the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice said the yacht “was subject to forfeiture based on violations of U.S. bank fraud, money laundering, and sanction statutes.”

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