The most burning question arising from the scandals swirling about Republican Congressman-elect George Santos isn’t who Santos is, but who owns Santos.
More serious than the apparent fact that Santos was a customer service agent rather than a financier with Citibank and Goldman Sachs, and by the time he launched his first run for the House, in November 2019, was earning $55,000 in salary working at a company called LinkBridge Investors, or that instead of his family company owning three mansions and a collection of properties, he faced two evictions and multiple suits for nonpayment, is how the man managed to go from that to having $700,000 to “loan” his own campaign for U.S. Congress.
In Santos’ telling, he was the living example of the “American Dream” he wanted to “restore,” rather than living in luxury on shady deals and campaign funds.
The New York Times reports that after LinkBridge, he went to Harbor City Capital, a Florida-based investment company, which was in short order accused by the SEC of being a Ponzi scheme; then, his company, Devolder, partnered with Harbor City Capitol investors to form Red Strategies USA to do political consulting for the candidate opposing Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez before being dissolved in September, failing to file an annual report, according to the New York Times’ expose.
In the disclosure filed with the House of Representatives, Santos claimed to be Devolder Organization’s sole owner and managing member, which paid him $750,000 salary and dividends between $1 million and $5 million. Devolder was dissolved for failing to file an annual report, the Times reported.
Equally serious to his source of income is the source of his campaign money. It has been reported that he received nearly $30,000 from Andrew Intrater, the cousin of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekslberg, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But where does the rest of that $750,000 “salary” actually come from?
Why is this so significant? Because in addition to supporting the Jan. 6 coup, Santos has expressed sympathy for Russia and would be part of the pro-Putin Sedition Caucus in Congress that intends to withhold further funding for Ukraine’s war for democracy and independence from Russian tyranny. (And yet, he stood side-by-side with Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman as Blakeman bestowed a citation on Ukraine’s Consul General.)
Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, who pushed Democrat Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken to resign over a prank photo when he was a comedian, years before he was elected, said that once Santos takes office, the only thing 3rd District constituents can do is to vote Santos out in two years.
Two years! Santos has already proved to be a reliable seditionist – boasting that he was at the Eclipse on Jan. 6 and contributing into the insurrectionists’ legal fund.
That alone should disqualify him to take the oath of office to “preserve and protect the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.”
But there are a series of actual federal crimes he is credibly accused of, that would disqualify him, as outlined in a letter Nassau County Legislator Josh Lazafan presented to the U.S. Attorney, Eastern District, New York calling for an investigation: voter fraud due to falsely listed residency; potential conspiracy to defraud the US arising from campaign donations connected with Russian oligarchs; lies on his FEC candidate financial disclosures, and questionable use of campaign funds for lavish travel and personal use.
“This is not about harmless embellishments, but federal crimes,” Lafazan said.
“In addition to Mr. Santos’ fully concocted resume, his unearthed criminal record abroad, his growing trail of misleading home addresses, his political and financial ties to Russian oligarchy, his undisclosed and otherwise inexplicable origin of wealth that helped self-finance two campaigns, along with his presence as a protester on Jan. 6, bear warning signs of a potential national security risk,” asserted Brad Schwartz, a 3rd district constituent and a doctorate candidate of international affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of international studies who studies disinformation.
“Unfortunately, in the current House environment, the ambition to secure every last vote for the GOP speakership and upcoming majority appears to be keeping George Santos insulated even at the expense our best national and security interests. We now find ourselves at a dangerous juncture if partisan and personal politicking is permitted to supercede what is an ethically unambiguous step. No one from either party believes Mr. Santos is qualified to serve in Congress, where his mere presence will further dilute the institution’s prestige and integrity to say nothing further of the security danger it may pose…George Santos is a detriment to our democracy. There is no reasonable, legitimate excuse to allow him near the Capitol he tried to subvert in 2021 – let alone seat him there as an exposed criminal, con artist and potential national security threat,” Schwartz stated at a press conference organized by Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan.
You would think that the Republicans would themselves act to remove this blight on their brand (“law and order” is so 1990s).
But it has become a new pattern: instead of public servants, Republicans enlist pirates and profiteers. And their fawning over Putin? It’s because Russia has proved such an efficient and generous promoter of disinformation, and propaganda, sowing the seeds of chaos and distrust in the foundation of our democracy, a free and fair election, the pinnacle of success being the installation of Trump in the White House.
The Republican Party is no longer a political party but a crime syndicate.
Santos is the culmination of failing to hold the Ultimate Conman accountable. Trump has proved a role model for grifting, money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and extortion, who sees political office as a sanctuary against prosecution, while (in Trump’s case) having the power to pardon those who commit crimes on his behalf.
Indeed, while constituents who feel cheated by the scam are absurdly blaming candidate Robert Zimmerman and the Democrats for failing to do sufficient opposition research, and the New York Times and Newsday for failing to expose this charlatan before the election (the Times reporter said the expose arose in the course of preparing a profile of the first openly Gay Republican Congressman), it is the Nassau County and the National Republican committees who are to blame for failing to vet the candidate they put forward. And if Santos is indicted for conspiracy to defraud the US, the Republican committees are co-conspirators.
Lafazan is proposing the county legislature adopt a Campaign Honesty Bill, “a first-of-its-kind piece of legislation here on Long Island to make sure that candidates do not commit voter fraud and are honest with the people they want to serve…We have to take action to restore people’s trust in their elected officials.”
Most urgently, Santos cannot be allowed to take the oath of office. What is an oath to this man? And what kind of representation can the 3rd district expect from a man who hides from the public, refuses to give a true accounting of his past, and has demonstrated a willingness to be a pawn of those who fund him.