The ethics committee of the US House of Representatives has released its report on George Santos and even though we have been regaled for the past year with the audacious nature of his lies and behavior, this report was still able to provide some surprises, especially as to the nature of the expenses that he charged to his campaign.
They concluded that Santos was at the center of a “complex web of unlawful activity” as he “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.” The report describes Santos spinning through various alleged schemes and lies as he obtained funds for everything from casino trips to cosmetic procedures, while dealing with personal credit card debt and negative bank balances.
TPM has reported on revolts within Santos’ campaign team. The Ethics Committee uncovered further details, including that “members of Representative Santos’ own campaign staff viewed him as a ‘fabulist,’ whose penchant for telling lies was so concerning that he was encouraged to seek treatment.”
The investigators noted Santos’s campaign “incurred significant travel expenses for flights, hotels, Ubers, and meals” and revealed how many of these charges lined up with his recreational activity rather than political events. The report specifically described “several specific expenditures as raising concerns of potential personal use of campaign funds: $2,281.52 spent at resorts in Atlantic City from July 23 to July 24, 2022; $1,400 at Virtual Skin Spa in Jericho, New York in July 2022, and $225 at CityMD in Huntington, New York on August 27, 2022.”
What stuck out for me were some of the weirder things.
He also used campaign funds for personal purposes. Some examples in the House report: purchases at Ferragamo and Hermès, hotel stays in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, ATM withdrawals, paying his personal rent and personal credit card bills, spa services like Botox and “smaller purchases” at OnlyFans, an adult content service.
Botox? Santos, at 35, is one of the youngest people in Congress, though who knows if has lied about even his age. Botox seems to be used by older people to get rid of wrinkles but Santos looks like the last person who needs it. He also spent a lot of time at skin spas. Is he that vain about his skin tone? Also OnlyFans? This is a site where mostly sex workers produce pornography and requires monthly subscriptions and pay-per-view. And what with shopping at high-end fashion retailers like Ferragamo and Hermes? Whenever I see Santos, he is wearing ordinary clothes. When did he dress up?
What comes out of these reports is that Santos that acted so egregiously that he was bound to be found out, sooner rather than later. This suggests that either he is not very smart or that he decided that he wanted to live the high life as much as he could in the short time that he had before the boom fell.
One would like to call him a conman but conmen usually have some level of guile and finesse. Santos has neither. He is just a low-level grifter.
The Ethics Committee has recommended that he be expelled from Congress and more and more members are signing on to the idea. But that requires a two-thirds vote or 289 members and may not happen because even many Democrats are uneasy about expelling someone who has not been convicted of crimes in a court of law. And although Santos has been charged with multiple felonies, the trials will not happen before the next elections in November 2024. Santos has said that he will not run again (though that may also be a lie) which may make congresspeople decide to just let him serve out his term. Thus the most likely outcome is that he will continue to be in Congress until the election and then later may face prison time.
The spectacular exploits of grifters like Santos are undoubtedly headline grabbing, even if on the large scale, they have little significance other than serving as a morality tale. Expect a made-for-TV film based on his life.