George Santos accepted campaign donations from deported human trafficker 'Uncle Rocky': report
A few hours before Republican officials in New York demanded the resignation of freshman United States Congressman George Santos (R-New York), The Daily Beast published an exclusive report revealing that Santos accepted campaign donations from a known human trafficker.
Santos' reputation as a liar and a fraud has ossified since The New York Times exposed Santos in December for fabricating his résumé and numerous aspects of his personal background. Santos is also the subject of multiple ethics complaints and investigations into possible criminal campaign finance law violations. And now, Santos is staring down yet another scandal on that front.
According to Beast researcher William Bredderman, Santos "took an almost certainly illegal donation from an Italian national and confessed smuggler of undocumented immigrants — who also happens to be the blood relative of some of his closest local supporters and campaign vendors."
The money allegedly came from a man named Rocco Oppedisano or "Uncle Rocky," an Italian national who was "expelled from the U.S. in January 2019, and who was subsequently intercepted piloting a yacht packed with unauthorized migrants and $200,000 in cash toward Florida."
Oppedisano's "brother Joseph and niece Tina," Bredderman explained, are members of Santos' extended family who own a swanky café in Queens called Il Bacco.
"As a truth-challenged candidate, Santos appointed the father-daughter pair, plus her fiancé, to his “Small Businesses for Santos Coalition,” and made Tina its chair. The campaign, already known for its suspect money maneuvers, also spent $25,443.64 at Il Bacco since the Republican launched his first run for his Long Island-Queens seat in 2020, according to federal campaign finance records. The campaign further reported owing Il Bacco $18,773.54 for its election night party in November," wrote Bredderman, noting that "especially striking to legal experts is that more than half a dozen of those expenses, marked 'Food and Beverage' in the filing, came in at exactly $199.99—one penny short of the threshold that would have required the campaign to retain receipts of the transaction."
Federal Election Commission regulations require contributions of more than $200 to be declared. Those coming from persons outside of the US, however, are strictly forbidden.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is one of the organizations that filed complaints against Santos with the FEC earlier this week. Its communications director Jordan Libowitz said in a statement to the Beast that "you can’t structure transfers of money in a way to intentionally get around the law," referring to the missing penny from Il Bacco's donations. “If someone was trying to structure and kind of lazy about it… this is kind of what it would look like.”
Libowitz was most concerned about "the Sept. 22, 2022, gift from Rocco Oppedisano, who court and property records show was stripped of his permanent resident status following a firearms and drug bust at homes belonging to Joseph Oppedisano in 2009," Bredderman learned.
“There are some things on which there is no gray area on with the FEC," Libowitz said, "and one of them is donations from foreign nationals."
The story continues here (subscription required).
- Republicans’ defense of 'sociopath' George Santos shows their total lack of 'moral standard': conservative ›
- Does the real George Santos even exist? ›
- George Santos staffer accused of impersonating Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff in calls with donors ›