Ousted US Rep. George Santos Allegedly Used Campaign Funds for Casino Trips
Posted on: December 3, 2023, 04:34h.
Last updated on: December 9, 2023, 02:19h.
Former US Rep. George Santos (R-New York) was ousted from his seat in Congress on Friday by a bipartisan vote of 311-114. The tally included 105 Republicans voting in favor of forcing the scandal-plagued congressional freshman from his House seat.
The 35-year-old’s dismissal marked the first time Congress voted to expel one of its own since 2002 when US Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) was removed for prohibited conduct. Santos becomes just the third congressional lawmaker since the Civil War to be forced out by his legislative colleagues.
Santos’ exit comes after a blistering report from the House Ethics Committee that detailed “substantial evidence” supporting federal prosecutors’ charges against him, which include allegations of identity theft, use of campaign money for personal use, making charges on donors’ credit cards without their authorization, and submitting false campaign reports.
Among those supposedly false campaign reports are allegations that Santos used political funds to bankroll lavish trips to both Atlantic City and Las Vegas for himself and his husband.
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OEC) identified several expenditures as possible use of campaign money for personal use. The OEC said a nearly $2,300 bill at an unidentified casino in Atlantic City incurred during a one-night stay for July 23-24, 2022, raised concerns.
Allegations Include Vegas Casino Trips
The Ethics investigation determined that Santos did not host or attend any political or campaign events during that time in Atlantic City or anywhere nearby. A Santos staffer told federal investigators that the congressman told him “that he enjoyed visiting casinos to play roulette, often with his husband.”
The probe additionally found a potential use of campaign funds for personal expenditures for a trip Santos took with his husband to Las Vegas in December 2021. Staffers told investigators that Santos had told them at the time that he was going to Las Vegas for his honeymoon and there were no corresponding campaign events on his calendar.
The OCE report also discovered numerous charges and ATM withdrawals from banking accounts and credit cards belonging to Santos’ political campaign called “Santos for Congress.” They include a $113.37 withdrawal at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip on Dec. 4, 2021. The transaction was not reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which enforces campaign finance laws.
On July 24, 2022, Santos allegedly withdrew $1,084.99 from an ATM inside Harrah’s Resort & Casino in Atlantic City. The following day, he made another ATM withdrawal for $659.99 at Caesars Atlantic City. Both of those transactions weren’t reported to the FEC.
Controversy and scandal surrounded the entirety of Santos’ short time in Congress. Reports surfaced as he assumed office in January that the New York City native misrepresented many aspects of his life during his 2022 campaign, including lying about his family being of Jewish heritage and his grandparents being Holocaust refugees.
Santos was also criticized for claiming he graduated at the top of his class from Baruch College despite never graduating from the Manhattan university. Santos claimed he was “a seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” and had previously worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but neither company has any record of his employment.
Santos has also claimed to have been the victim of hate crimes despite never reporting any such incident to the police. Santos additionally claimed to have successfully beaten a brain tumor and committed many hours of charitable work for children born with the rare genetic skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa. A Vice News investigation, however, could not find any associated charity willing to confirm Santos’ involvement or support.
Rep. Michael Guest (R-Mississippi), who chairs the House Ethics Committee, said no one wants to forcibly remove a lawmaker, but “the evidence was overwhelming” with Santos’ alleged lies and corruption.
Santos is facing 23 charges in a federal indictment. He has pleaded not guilty.
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