Questions about the funding of George Santos‘ congressional bid intensified on Tuesday after the New York Republican filed an amended Federal Election Commission report in which he no longer claimed a $500,000 loan received had come from the “personal funds of the candidate.”
Santos was already facing calls to resign from Congress, including from his local Republican Party, after it emerged he had lied about much of his background including attending college, working for top Wall Street firms and his mother being in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
In his updated federal finance report, filed on Tuesday, Santos had unticked the box claiming a $500,000 loan to his campaign came from “personal funds of the candidate,” which had previously been ticked. However, he again said the loan came “from the candidate,” triggering confusion about the money’s origins.
He also said in the amended filings, first reported by the Daily Beast, that a $125,000 loan, which his campaign received on October 26, was not from his “personal funds,” but failed to explain where the money had come from.
In total, Santos said he lent his campaign more than $700,000, telling WABC radio he used “the money I paid myself through the Devolder Organization” to fund it. The Devolder Organization was run by Santos, who claimed it provided “specialty consulting” for rich individuals, though there are few details about its business activities in the public domain.
Speaking to The New York Times, top election lawyer Brett G. Kappel questioned whether the loan provided to Santos’ campaign could have come from an illegal source.
He said: “If the candidate’s personal wealth wasn’t the source of the loan, then what was? The only other permissible source would be a bank, and they would require collateral for a loan of this size. If a bank wasn’t the source of the funds, then the only alternatives are illegal sources.”
Representative James Comer, a Republican who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has already said Santos will be “removed from Congress” if proven to have violated campaign finance laws.
Appearing on CNN earlier this month, he said: “It’s not up to me or any other member of Congress to determine whether he can be kicked out for lying. Now, if he broke campaign finance laws, then he will be removed from Congress.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has also said Santos will be removed if he is found to have “broken the law.”
Earlier this month, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) announced it had “filed a complaint” against Santos to the Federal Election Commission, accusing the Republican of a “tasting menu of campaign finance law violations.”
“We think that rather than Santos making overnight millions from a business he can’t explain, he, and others unknown, engaged in a scheme to provide secret, illegal contributions to his campaign,” Roger Wieand, a CLC senior researcher concluded.
The CLC also suggested Santos’ campaign was “illegally paying his rent,” and highlighted a large number of expenditures registered at $199.99, one cent below the level where candidates are required to produce a receipt.
Newsweek reached out to George Santos for comment.