Another week brings another scandal for out New York fabulist Rep. George Santos. This time, he's accused of involving himself in questionable financial deals and fundraising efforts around a GOP gay rights project involving a Trump administration official, the funding of which he allegedly misrepresented to the cousin of a Russian oligarch who made a significant contribution.
Mother Jones reports that Santos was involved in Rise NY, a New York registered political action committee created in 2020 that was focused on increasing voter registration, targeted education, and boosting turnout.
It collected a total of $430,000 for its operation. It turned out that Santos sent a significant portion — $55,800 — to a Washington, D.C. organization, which used those funds to support a gay rights site associated with Richard Grenell, a prominent gay Republican from Trump's administration who served as the ambassador to Germany and as a special peace envoy to Kosovo and Serbia.
Grenell eventually endorsed Santos for his House seat.
Although PACs and candidates for office cannot coordinate under federal election laws, Santos's sister Tiffany was listed on Rise NY's payroll as president, and Santos's former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, was also listed as the organization's treasurer.
Mother Jones reports that several groups have called Rise NY's affairs and Santos's involvement "unusual" at best.
Rise NY contributed a lot of money to the Liberty Education Forum, a Washington nonprofit affiliated with the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of queer Republicans. But unlike its stated goal, Rise NY did not send the group any donations related to voter registration, the outlet reports.
Additionally, Rise NY supported a group called Outspoken Middle East, an international LGBTQ+ human rights project. Grenell was one of the founders of Outspoken Middle East.
Grennell told Mother Jones that "the gay left" had failed "the gay community with their anti-American campaigns in West Hollywood and Chelsea" while simultaneously admitting that Santos is a liar, though he refused to answer questions about the extent of their relationship.
Andrew Intrater, a New York fund manager and cousin to sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, was one of Rise NY's primary funders. He invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Santos' former employer, a Ponzi scheme alleged to have violated securities regulations. Rise NY received $175,000 from Intrater in several installments between 2021 and 2022, according to Mother Jones.
An attorney for Santos refused to comment to the outlet on an ongoing investigation.
When Santos won the election in November, Grenell celebrated Santos's "historic" election of an out gay Republican.
"It took too long to reach this moment. But big congratulations to George," the former acting director of national intelligence tweeted about the man who fooled everyone about his background.