Ever since Representative George Santos forced his way into the public consciousness six months ago, a major question has been exactly how he made his money. The Republican congressman claimed to have made millions in a short amount of time, with no real explanation of where the money came from.
The new charges against him, if anything, make things even more complicated.
Santos was formally charged in a New York federal court Wednesday with 13 counts of various forms of financial fraud, including two counts of making false statements on his House financial disclosure reports. Santos has previously claimed he had made $3 million in the years before he ran for Congress, including a $750,000 salary in 2021.
But according to court documents, he never came close to making that much. The court filing alleges that Santos only earned about $55,000 in 2020, when he first ran for Congress, in salaries from two different companies. One of those companies, Harbor City Capital, was accused of a ponzi scheme, which Santos conveniently failed to disclose.
The indictment also says Santos falsely claimed a $750,000 salary and between $1 and $5 million in dividends from his company Devolder Organizations. So if that’s the case, where did Santos get the money he claimed to have, including his campaign funds? And did it even exist?
The indictment makes it clear that prosecutors are also trying to determine the source of Santos’s alleged massive personal wealth.
Santos was also charged Wednesday with two counts of unemployment fraud for claiming unemployment Covid-19 benefits and five counts of wire fraud for soliciting donations in 2022, saying they were for his House campaign. Instead, he transferred the donations to his own bank account and used it for personal expenses, such as buying designer clothes and making credit card payments.
The indictment checks out with other shady dealings we’ve learned about regarding Santos in recent months. One donor told Talking Points Memo that they had donated $1,000 to his 2020 campaign, paying via credit card over the phone. Over the next year, more than $15,000 in fraudulent charges were made on that card, with some of the money going to companies and other campaigns linked to Santos.
Santos also helped broker the sale of a $19 million yacht between two of his biggest donors just a few weeks before the election in November, The New York Times reported. He told Semafor that his referral fee for such a deal would be several hundred thousand dollars.
But in the end, exactly where all his money came from remains a mystery. Perhaps his upcoming federal trial will help shed a little more light on the matter.