The campaign of embattled Representative George Santos filed updated reports on Tuesday with federal regulators that appear to raise new questions about the source of the significant personal loans he says he has provided to his campaign.
The New York Republican, the subject of multiple investigations into his finances and fabrications about his biography and resume, previously claimed to have loaned his campaign more than $700,000.
But in two of the new filings with the Federal Election Commission, the boxes indicating loans of $500,000 and $125,000 came from personal funds were unmarked.
The Daily Beast first reported on the changed FEC filings.
Campaign finance experts say it wasn’t immediately clear what those changes entailed.
“I have no idea what’s going on with the loans,” Jordan Libowitz of the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told DailyExpertNews Wednesday. “It’s hands down the most confusing FEC filing I’ve seen.”
In all, Santos filed 10 amendment reports with the FEC on Tuesday — dating back to early 2021 — as his campaign comes under intense scrutiny. The campaign has a history of filing multiple amendments to the original filings. And the agency has sent nearly two dozen letters to his campaign over the course of two election cycles seeking clarification on his filings.
“It could be the most sloppy bookkeeping from a candidate we’ve ever seen,” Libowitz said. But he said that if Santos did not provide the money for the loans, it raises questions about whether it came from a prohibited source.
While candidates can contribute — or borrow — an unlimited amount of their own money to their campaigns, it is illegal to accept a six-figure contribution from another person. It is also against the law for a corporation to donate any amount of money directly to a congressional candidate.
In a tense conversation with reporters Wednesday morning, Santos would not explain why the campaign reports were changed and declined to discuss the source of the money.
“Let’s make it real clear: I’m not changing anything, I’m not touching any of my FEC stuff, right?” he told DailyExpertNews. “So don’t be dishonest and report that I did, because you know every campaign hires trustees.”
DailyExpertNews has reached out to Santos’ personal attorney, Joe Murray, and his campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, for comment.
Some of the biggest questions surrounding Santos’ campaign activity have centered on the financial windfall that allowed the Republican to borrow $705,000 for his successful 2022 campaign. Santos flipped a Democratic-held Long Island seat in November, leaving the Republicans with a tight win a majority in the House.
In Santos’ previous unsuccessful bid for Congress, in 2020, his personal financial disclosure form listed no assets and a salary of $55,000. Two years later, Santos reported a $750,000 salary from a company called the Devolder Organization.
He has provided various explanations about the nature of Devolder’s business activities.
In an interview with Semafor, Santos described Devolder as performing “deal building” and “specialty consulting” for “high net worth individuals” and said he “wrote several million dollar contracts” within the first six months of starting the firm . A recent FEC indictment against Santos from the Campaign Legal Center notes that Santos previously referred to it as “his family business” and described himself as overseeing $80 million in assets under management.
Adav Noti, the legal director of the Campaign Legal Center, said Santos’ documents remain confusing.
Over the course of the cycle, the campaign has been “inconsistent” in marking the personal funds box when it comes to loans, he said. So it’s not clear whether Tuesday’s changes were intentional.
“Like everything else related to Santos, it’s a mystery,” Noti said.
In addition, he said, the new documents don’t seem to answer some pressing questions about Santos’ campaign spending, such as the dozen payouts of just under $200.
DailyExpertNews previously reported that the campaign reported 37 spends of $199.99, one cent below the threshold above which campaigns must keep receipts. In its complaint, the Campaign Legal Center argued that the sheer number of these $199.99 expenses is “implausible” and asked the FEC to investigate whether Santos falsified his filings.
Noti said it is time the agency launched a formal investigation or a thorough audit of Santos’ campaign.
Judith Ingram, an FEC spokeswoman, declined to comment, citing the agency’s policy of not commenting on enforcement or potential enforcement issues.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.