It may sound cynical but it is oh so true, follow the money. Where the money is coming from is determinative of many things, especially in politics, especially in this day and age where Russia has decided to buy as much of the GOP as it can. So far, George Santos has been grilled on many topics and he’s coming up short on all the answers and his finances are certainly no exception.
Santos is consistent, at least. At one point he cries poor mouth, because he can’t get any rents, due to COVID. Unfortunately, he didn’t own any rental properties to get rents from. Washington Post:
What he claimed: In early 2021, he claimed he and his family owned 13 rental properties. “We worked hard to acquire these assets,” he said, and the following day he complained about how his “tenants” were taking advantage of state law.
Will we landlords ever be able to take back possession of our property? My family and I nearing a 1 year anniversary of not receiving rent on 13 properties!!! The state is collecting their tax, yet we get 0 help from the government. We worked hard to acquire these assets…
— George Santos (@Santos4Congress) February 9, 2021
But the New York Times reported, “Property records databases in New York City and Nassau County did not show any documents or deeds associated with him, immediate family members or the Devolder Organization.”
What he says now: “George Santos does not own any properties,” he told the New York Post. In fact, he said he currently resides outside the district that elected him, at his sister’s home, and is looking to purchase his own home.
Parse: Despite Santos’s claim that he doesn’t own any properties, the financial disclosure that he filed with the House in September claimed that he did own an “apartment in Rio de Janeiro” valued at between $500,001 and $1 million. (The asset did not appear on the same form he filed for his 2020 campaign, nor did millions of other dollars of assets he would later claim, as we’ll get to.)
Oh yes, the Post does get to the sudden appearance of millions of dollars. This is where the trail gets very rocky indeed. I find it intriguing that Tulsi Gabbard, when she was raking Santos over the coals last night on Fox News, didn’t ask about Russia. Nor would she, being so Putin-friendly herself. But that is a logical speculation at this point. Read to how the once Dish Network customer service rep suddenly was loaning his political campaign over half a million dollars from a company which showed basic revenue of less than 50K. That’s a neat trick.
What he claimed: Despite claiming no assets or earned income on his 2020 financial disclosure, he lent his 2022 campaign and political action committee at least $600,000. His 2022 form featured millions’ worth of assets, with more than $1 million in income coming from one of them: the Devolder Organization. His campaign website once said that the company managed $80 million in assets.
What he says now: Of the loan to his campaign, he said, in a radio interview, “That is the money of — that I’ve paid myself through my company, Devolder Organization.”
Parse: As The Washington Post reported Monday, the question of where this money came from might be the biggest one — and perhaps the most troubling for Santos, given the legal implications, including for knowingly filing false financial disclosures. The Devolder Organization was organized in May 2021, according to documents filed with the Florida secretary of state, and Santos reported an annual salary of $750,000 in 2021 and 2022, so $600,000 to his campaign would have been a large chunk of that money. In addition, The Post reported that the financial data company Dun & Bradstreet estimated that, based on its data modeling, Devolder as of July 2022 had revenue of only $43,688.
BANG! That was the sound of the smoking gun going off.
Apparently Santos is going to be seated in Congress next week and also apparently, he’s going to vote for Kevin McCarthy as Speaker. What happens after that however, may well be a case of first impression.
He would have done well to resign — and maybe he will, in the next few days — this story is moving fast. The way things look so far is that Santos is a total fraud and the deeper people dig the more obvious sham and lies get uncovered. Now we’re down to where the rubber meets the road, money, and the revelation of where that came from is going to be difficult to whitewash.
If Santos thinks he’s being “nitpicked” now, just wait a few days. He’s not going to be able to apologize away knowingly filing false financial disclosures. And if some Russian oligarch is found to be footing the bill, that’s going to be explosive.
This is the direction speculation is running. You can’t call it outlandish. It is a theory which fits the facts. And don’t forget Robert Mueller’s comment from when he testified before Congress, when asked about Russian interference with elections: “They’re doing it as we sit here.”
The bigger question now, is whether the GOP, or McCarthy in particular, will choose to pull the plug or let this thing continue to build to Chernobyl level proportions and blow up in their faces.