Santos target of another watchdog complaint alleging misuse of campaign funds

The complaint alleges Santos used funds to pay for business, private expenses.

January 13, 2023, 5:30 PM

Another watchdog group has filed a complaint against Rep. George Santos, alleging the embattled congressman misused his campaign finances, received excessive donations and failed to file disclosure reports on time.

Accountable.US, a progressive watchdog group, filed the complaint Friday asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate.

While Santos has been under the microscope for lying about parts of his background, the complaint adds to the growing legal questions about his campaign's finances.

“Our complaint uncovers evidence that George Santos likely broke campaign finance laws by illegally using campaign funds on personal expenses and his business, and by accepting thousands in funds that exceed legal campaign limits,” Kyle Herrig, the president of Accountable.US, told ABC News in a statement. “The rule of law is crucial in all democracies, and the FEC has an obligation to hold him accountable -- Speaker McCarthy and his MAGA majority certainly won’t."

The watchdog alleges that Santos's campaign received more than $113,000 from 36 individuals, appearing to exceed the $2,900 limit per election contribution from individual donors.

It also alleges Santos used his campaign funds to pay for expenses related to his business and private life, including rent at a Long Island residence and flights to Florida.

"The complaint contains details on a potential violation that has gone unnoticed up to this point," the group said in a press release. "The Santos campaign paid for flights and hotel rooms less than two miles away from the Florida address of his personal business, the Devolder Organization just weeks after the business was founded, suggesting that funds could've been illegally used to pay for his personal business expenses."

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) leaves the Capitol on Jan. 12, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

A different watchdog, the Campaign Legal Center, on Monday urged the FEC to investigate possible violations of federal campaign finance laws by Santos. The group alleged Santos concealed the true sources of campaign donations, misrepresented his campaign's spending and illegally used campaign money for personal use.

The next day, two New York Democrats also filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee requesting the panel investigate Santos' financial disclosures.

The two Democratic congressmen, Reps. Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres, raised questions about how Santos donated $705,000 to his campaign this cycle when his reported salary in 2020 was $55,000.

Santos maintained he'd done nothing unethical when responding to the complaint filed by his Democratic counterparts.

He has not publicly addressed the latest filing from Accountable.US. Santos' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The controversies surrounding Santos have resulted in a growing number of Republicans calling for his resignation.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) watches proceedings during the fourth day of elections for Speaker of the House at the Capitol Building on Jan. 06, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

There are now seven House Republicans saying Santos should step down: Reps. Anthony D'Esposito, Nick Langworthy, Brian Williams, Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler, Nancy Mace and Max Miller.

Five of those members are part of the New York delegation: D'Esposito, Langworthy, Williams, LaLota and Lawler.

Republican leadership, however, has not called for Santos to resign. House Speaker Kevn McCarthy has called Santos a member of the GOP conference and said he can serve unless it's proven by one of the investigations that there's been wrongdoing.

Santos himself remained defiant on Thursday, telling ABC News that all voters who supported him in the last election would have to ask for him to resign. He later told fellow GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz on a podcast that he would let the voters decide in two years whether he should remain in office.

-ABC News' Lauren Peller, Lalee Ibssa and Will Steakin contributed to this report.

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