GOP Rep. George Santos is facing an FEC complaint in his first full week in office

GOP Rep. George Santos is facing an FEC complaint in his first full week in office

Washington – Newly sworn in Congressman George Santos will begin his first week in office with a formal ethics complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

In a civil lawsuit filed with the agency on Monday and reviewed by CBS News, the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center accused Santos, a New York Republican, of illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses, including renting an apartment, and for submitting false ones Information about both the source of his campaign donations and his campaign expenses.

The DC-based Campaign Legal Center questioned how Santos was able to make a sizeable donation to his own campaign in the months leading up to his victory in a Long Island home race. The complaint alleged that Santos “loaned $705,000 to his campaign during the 2022 election. However, it’s far from clear how he could have done so using his own funds, as financial reports show Santos had just $55,000 to his name in 2020.”

santos authorized in an interview with the New York Post last month that he “embellished” his work and education history during his congressional campaign, after the New York Times reported that it could not confirm key details about his background.

Monday’s FEC complaint also raised the prospect of international interference in the election. It claimed, “The hidden true source behind $705,000 in donations to Santos’ campaign could be a corporation or a foreigner—both are categorically barred from supporting federal candidates.”

The Campaign Legal Center’s complaint also raised questions about the expenses reported in Santos’ financial reports for the campaign. Dozens of expenses are listed in the Santos campaign expense papers at a cost of $199.99, just a cent below the $200 threshold, for which the FEC requires receipts or itemized details. According to the complaint, “The campaign reported a staggering 40 payouts between $199 and $200, including 37 payouts of exactly $199.99. The sheer number of these payouts, just under $200, is believable, and some payments seem impossible given the nature of the item or service covered.”

According to the Campaign Legal Center’s complaint, some of the $199.99 spend in Santos’ campaign funding records included Uber rides and hotel accommodations: “The Santos campaign reported a $199.99 payout as of October 13, 2021 Dollars to the W Hotel South Beach in Miami, Florida for ‘hotel stay’ but the cheapest room available for a midweek stay in October – one night in an adult room – costs more than $700.26.”

The Santos campaign also reported a $199.99 payout to identity verification company CLEAR for “travel,” but CLEAR indicated in an email that its non-discounted standard annual membership is $189.28. The Santos campaign reported a $199.99 payout to JFK Parking, but there is no combination of charges from this airport parking lot that would end at $99.99.

“Voters deserve the truth. They have the right to know who is spending money to influence their vote and their government, and they have the right to know how candidates competing for their vote are spending those funds,” said Adav Noti, Senior Vice President & Head of the Campaign Legal Center Legal Department.

George Santos lied to voters about many things, but while it may not be illegal to lie about your background, it is a serious violation of federal law to mislead voters about your campaign funding and spending,” Noti said.

Santos declined multiple requests for comment from CBS News on allegations of fabrication about his background and coverage of his campaign funding. Efforts to immediately reach a spokesman for the congressman on the newly filed FEC complaint were unsuccessful.

Newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not responded to questions about Santos or Santos’ future at the House Republican Conference in recent weeks.

According to FEC guidelines, the Commission “considers each complaint on a case-by-case basis. If the Commission finds that a breach has occurred, the possible outcomes can range from a letter repeating compliance obligations to an arbitration agreement, which may include: a monetary civil penalty. By law, all FEC enforcement matters are kept confidential until resolved.”

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