FBI investigating George Santos’ role in $19 million sale between donors

FBI investigating George Santos’ role in $19 million sale between donors
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U.S. Congressman George Santos (R-NY) is once again under scrutiny, this time for his role in the sale of a multimillion-dollar yacht he allegedly brokered between two of his largest donors.

Santos, already under House Ethics Committee investigation for – among other possible violations, sexual misconduct – is also facing numerous federal investigations, including criminal investigations.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe into the New York Republican’s role in the sale of a $19 million yacht to two of his donors. The New York Times reports Rep. Santos, “by many accounts, mingled campaign fund-raising with personal business opportunities.”

“Several donors have described encounters with Mr. Santos at fund-raisers in which he would describe deals he could broker with other donors in industries including insurance and pharmaceuticals, or he would tell them about donors who were seeking to sell businesses or luxury items,” The Times adds. “Mr. Santos would offer to bring people together, with the implicit understanding that he would take a cut, they said. The pitches were often paired with requests for donations.”

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In a December interview with Semafor, Santos attempted to fill in a few details about his dramatic rise in income. When he first ran for Congress in 2020 he said he made $55,000 a year. In 2022, “he came into sudden riches, makingbetween $3.5 million and $11.5 million from a company he founded called the Devolder Organization in 2021. He loaned his campaign more than $700,000.”

Santos explained how he made at least some of his money so quickly, offering as an example what he might do if a client wanted to sell a plane or a boat.

“I’m not going to go list it and broker it,” Santos told Semafor. “What I will do is I will go look out there within my Rolodex and be like: ‘Hey, are you looking for a plane?’ ‘Are you looking for a boat?’ I just put that feeler out there.”

“If you’re looking at a $20 million yacht, my referral fee there can be anywhere between $200,000 and $400,000,” he added.

This week Politico reported Santos has already filed to run for re-election, although he has not officially announced. The New York Times’ Michael Gold explains, “This doesn’t mean he’ll ultimately run. But it lets him keep raising money to pay for campaign-related expenses, including legal fees, and to pay back the $700,000 loan he gave his campaign.”

And while the vast majority of his constituents want him expelled from Congress for lying about his background, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to effectively protect Santos, saying he will take no action unless and until there are criminal charges.

The Times notes that Santos’ actions surrounding the brokering of the sale of the yacht may not have broken any laws, but there are other potential issues.

“Several election law experts said that if the sale was designed to inject money into Mr. Santos’s campaign, it may be in violation of federal law governing caps on campaign contributions. It could also be illegal if Mr. Santos tied any commission he received on the sale to previous or future donations.”

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