George Santos Lied His Way into Federal Campaign Finance Violations

George Santos sitting among other members of Congress looking off to the side
United States Representative-elect George Santos (Republican from New York) participates as the United States House of Representatives meets to hold their 12th vote for Speaker of the House, Friday, January 6, 2023. Photo by Cliff Owen/CNP

Representative George Santos has a lot of people to answer to. First and foremost should be his constituents, the voters of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, who were deliberately deceived regarding critical personal and financial information about the candidate on their ballot.

Voters have a right to the information they need to make informed decisions. Reporting has revealed Santos’s many mistruths, embellishments and outright lies about his work and educational experience, heritage and personal life, which clouded the public’s ability to evaluate him as their representative in Congress.

As troubling as those falsehoods may be, Santos’s deeply problematic campaign finance disclosures are worse. They raise numerous red flags of illegal conduct, and they appear to have been intentionally designed to hamper voters’ right to know how his campaign raised and spent its money — information that is essential for voters to evaluate candidates for office.

On his (ultimately successful) journey to Congress, Santos appears to have violated federal campaign finance laws on several fronts.

Because of this, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has filed a complaint against Santos with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), urging the Commission to thoroughly investigate what appear to be brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money. The alleged violations fall into three categories:

  1. 1. Concealment of the true sources of his campaign funding, including the unexplained and highly suspicious origins of $705,000 Santos purportedly loaned his campaign.  

  1. 2. Misrepresentation of his campaign’s spending by routinely and deliberately falsifying disclosures regarding the campaign’s disbursement of funds.  

  1. 3. Illegal use of campaign funds for personal expenses, including the use of campaign funds to pay for a personal residence for Santos.  

The complaint is now in the hands of the FEC, the only federal agency whose sole mission is enforcing the laws that govern our campaign finance system at the federal level. The FEC has the opportunity – and if the investigation bears out these violations, the obligation – to hold Rep. Santos accountable for at least some of his lies.

(See the complaint here)


UPDATE: On January 10th, this complaint was sent to the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice to alert the Department to potential criminal violations of the federal campaign finance laws that warrant investigation.

Brendan is a Senior Communications Manager for Campaign Finance and Ethics issues at CLC.