The party that brought the United States criminal defendant Donald Trump also brought the United States the now DOJ-charged George Anthony Devolder Santos.
Santos is accused of opening a shell company and depositing money that was given under the promise it would be used to help him get elected and then moving that money to transferred/laundered into his personal accounts and used for personal purchases, cash, to pay off personal debts, and more.
The charging documents for Representative Santos tell the story of his run for office as a get rich quick scheme, noted by New York Times reporter Nick Confessore, who wrote above the following cited passage: “Santos indictment suggests that his bid for Congress was, among other things, a kind of a get-rich-quick scheme.”
Fraudulent Political Contribution Solicitation Scheme
Beginning in September 2022, during his successful campaign for Congress, Santos operated a limited liability company (Company #1) through which he allegedly defrauded prospective political supporters. Santos enlisted a Queens-based political consultant (Person #1) to communicate with prospective donors on Santos’s behalf. Santos allegedly directed Person #1 to falsely tell donors that, among other things, their money would be used to help elect Santos to the House, including by purchasing television advertisements. In reliance on these false statements, two donors (Contributor #1 and Contributor #2) each transferred $25,000 to Company #1’s bank account, which Santos controlled.
As alleged in the indictment, shortly after the funds were received into Company #1’s bank account, the money was transferred into Santos’s personal bank accounts—in one instance laundered through two of Santos’s personal accounts. Santos allegedly then used much of that money for personal expenses. Among other things, Santos allegedly used the funds to make personal purchases (including of designer clothing), to withdraw cash, to discharge personal debts, and to transfer money to his associates.
Santos’ behavior has been shockingly brazen — even for a member of the Republican Party, which has branded itself as pro-corruption under Donald Trump’s leadership. The comments made by law enforcement about his indictment read like an exhale of noxious fumes.
“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations,” Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney said in a statement. “Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself. He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives.”
Yes, that’s right, Santos unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. But to be fair, cheating the government out of unemployment and then being paid by the taxpayers to do a job one is not really doing after arriving via a get rich quick scheme seems like a natural progression that he could have learned while watching Donald Trump run for the presidency in 2015.
It wouldn’t be surprising for Santos’ legal defense to be on par with that of many January 6th defendants: “But Trump.”
Yes, indeed. But Trump. It’s difficult to keep a straight face covering the “law and order” party as its leaders and members seemingly run afoul of the law repeatedly.
District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said, “As charged in the indictment, the defendant’s alleged behavior continued during his second run for Congress when he pocketed campaign contributions and used that money to pay down personal debts and buy designer clothing.”
If there was any confusion about just whom Santos is modeling himself after, he cleared that up after appearing in court Wednesday, calling the indictment “a witch hunt.”
“I’m going to fight my battle. I’m going to deliver. I’m going to fight the witch hunt. I am going to take care of clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”
It might seem to Santos as if he is getting in trouble over so little given what the Trump family got away with from Donald Trump’s inaugural scam on down to the $2 billion from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince a mere 6 months after finally (unwillingly, on Trump’s part) vacating the White House. But Santos’ alleged grift was committed without the expensive legal protection of the elites committing white collar crimes.
Santos is accused of violating the law multiple times and he left a trail so obvious it’s almost as if he wanted to get caught.
Santos was in police custody Wednesday morning after being indicted for 13 federal counts, including money laundering, wire fraud, and making false statements to the House.
As Jason Easley noted earlier, Santos will be kept in the U.S. House of “Representatives,” even though he has been indicted by the DOJ. Why? Because Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) can’t afford to lose any of his ultra slim majority, and so once again, the Republican Party has made the cynical calculation that power is more important than ethics, the law, their image, and any moral high ground they might have dubiously claimed.
McCarthy could have avoided this embarrassment by getting rid of Santos when his first scandals rolled in, but McCarthy instead prioritized his own tenuous power via Santos.
While there are dirty politicians in both parties, Republicans keep getting away with this kind of behavior with no punishment from their voters because Republicans have primed their base not to believe the news and also to take pride in having no shame. That is Trump’s appeal: No shame. Do what you want. Hurt whoever you want. Just win.
Skirting the law in the course of self-enrichment is practically a Trump brand at this point, but his blatant self-dealing seems to have taken as a challenge by other Republicans to get what they can while they can (also see several conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court).
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Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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