The Department of Justice has asked the Federal Elections Commission to step aside regarding its investigation into New York’s lying congressman, Republican Rep. George Santos.
The request indicates that federal prosecutors are investigating whether Santos committed any crimes. The move came from DOJ’s public integrity unit, the Washington Postreports.
In addition, the request asked the FEC to provide the Justice Department with relevant documents.
Most of the time, federal agencies comply with these sorts of requests because they don’t want to be in each other’s way, David M. Mason, a former FEC commissioner, told the paper.
“[T]hey don’t want anything that the FEC, which is a civil agency, does to potentially complicate their criminal case,” he said.
Prosecutors are sure to explore some suspicious campaign expenditures that were accounted for as payments to “anonymous” briefly before being removed from campaign filings.
The Santos campaign reported spending $254,000 in its spring 2022 filings to the FEC, constituting more than 1,200 small payments to “anonymous,” the Postreports.
The Santos campaign removed the “anonymous” payments from amended reports the following month. Campaigns are not required to itemize charges under $200. Many charges for $199.99 - within one cent of the reporting requirement - had previously raised concerns about the Santos campaign’s expenditures.
Due to his lies about his biography, Santos has faced calls to resign and is now facing increasing questions. Several watchdog groups, including the Campaign Legal Center, have filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission regarding his campaign, concentrating on the $700,000 he claims to have lent.
A Tuesday amendment focuses new attention on the $705,000 in loans Santos claimed to have given his campaign in 2021 and 2022.
There were conflicting accounts of the source of two of those loans in the new filings. The campaign checked boxes to indicate Santos provided a $500,000 loan in some cases but not others. The latest filings didn’t account for where the money originated if it was not Santos himself. Santos left out a box that had indicated he had made a $125,000 loan.
In a filing on Wednesday, the campaign and affiliated political committees indicated that they had replaced Santos’ treasurer, Nancy Marks, with Wisconsin-based Thomas Datwyler. Datwyler was identified on an electronic line intended for the treasurer’s signature.
However, Datwyler’s lawyer, Derek Ross, told the Post that his client did not sign or authorize the paperwork and that he does not plan to serve as the treasurer for the campaign or its affiliates.
Meanwhile, Santos remains defiant and continues to resist increasing calls among Republicans to resign.
Taking a page from the MAGA playbook, the congressman continues to double down and avoid or attack the media.
For example, on Thursday, Santos tweeted, “From interviewing clowns, to creating fake “posts” the media continues to down spiral as their attempt to smear me fails. I am getting the job I signed up for done, while you all spiral out of control.”
Santos’s office has yet to respond to several of The Advocate’s requests for comment.