Washington — A bruising report from the House Ethics Committee on its investigation into GOP Rep. George Santos of New York detailed what congressional investigators said was "substantial evidence" that the embattled congressman tapped into campaign funds to cover his own personal expenses.
The purchases — at luxury retailers, spas, resorts and more — made by Santos while mounting bids for Congress in 2020 and 2022, the first of which was unsuccessful, were uncovered during the course of a review conducted by a four-member investigative subcommittee of the ethics panel into allegations of wrongdoing by the freshman congressman.
The lawmakers' findings were made public by the Ethics Committee on Thursday, prompting swift condemnation of Santos from Republicans and Democrats alike, and adding momentum behind an effort to expel the New York Republican from Congress.
Republican Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi, the Ethics Committee chairman, filed a resolution seeking Santos' removal from the House on Friday and said in a statement that his expulsion is "the most appropriate punishment." Any action on the measure will not come until after Thanksgiving, as the House will next hold votes on Nov. 28.
Guest and Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the panel, said in a statement following the report's release that Santos' "conduct warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought severe discredit upon the House."
Congressional investigators said that during the course of their probe, they found "substantial evidence" that Santos violated federal law and uncovered a "complex web of unlawful activity" involving his campaign, personal and business finances.
Santos allegedly used a Florida-based company affiliated with him, RedStone Strategies, LLC, to funnel campaign donations into his personal bank account, and used a campaign debit card for purchases that didn't appear to have a "campaign nexus," the ethics panel said.
The list of what Santos allegedly bought with campaign donations
According to campaign files, bank records and other documents released by the Ethics Committee, the list of personal expenses covered by donors to his 2020 and 2022 campaigns include:
$4,127 at the luxury store Hermès;$2,281 at resorts in Atlantic City;"Smaller purchases" at OnlyFans, the subscription-based website where people generally sell adult content, and the makeup store Sephora;$1,500 at Mirza Aesthetics, labeled "Botox;"$1,400 at Virtual Skin Spa, labeled "Botox;"$3,332 for an AirBnB in early July 2022, when Santos was "off at [the] Hampton's for the weekend," according to his campaign's calendar;$6,000 at Ferragamo stores;$800 cash withdrawal from an ATM at a casino in Maryland;$1,000 cash withdrawal from an ATM near Santos' apartment in New York;A rent payment
Santos has accused the Ethics Committee of releasing a "biased report" and continues to defend himself from the allegations of wrongdoing. But Santos said he would not be seeking reelection in 2024, writing on social media site that his "family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time."
"The committee went to extraordinary lengths to smear myself and my legal team about me not being forthcoming (My legal bills suggest otherwise). It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk," he wrote on X. "Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of justice should all be ashamed of themselves."