“As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign. Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen” stated United States Attorney Peace.
Rep. George Santos is in even deeper trouble than previously known following his former campaign treasurer’s guilty plea to federal charges last week. Nancy Marks pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in helping Santos file a finance claim showing a fictitious $500,000 loan to his campaign in March 2022.
Marks admitted to filing false campaign reports in her plea, a scheme intended to show financial support for Santos in order for him to qualify for help from the National Republican Campaign Committee. “Co-Conspirator #1 and MARKS agreed to falsely report to the FEC that family members of Co-Conspirator #1 and MARKS had made significant financial contributions to the Campaign Committee,” the document filed by federal prosecutors against Marks said. “Co-Conspirator #1 and MARKS both knew that these individuals had not made the reported contributions.”
Co-conspirator #1 is obviously Santos himself. The Daily Beast notes that the charges Marks pleaded guilty to are not related to “any of the 13 counts laid out in the indictment that Justice Department prosecutors brought against Santos in May.” But prosecutors have merged their cases against Marks and Santos, and two people “with knowledge of the investigation” tell The Daily Beast that further charges against Santos appear imminent. Somehow, Santos did come up with that $500,000—and more—and investigators are still attempting to determine where that money came from.
In the meantime, the House Ethics Committee has been continuing its investigation. In the past, the committee had halted inquiries against members when the Justice Department launched a probe. “What we’re saying is, certainly the criminal case that DOJ wants to look at—feel free to continue that process. But ethical issues that deserve to be reviewed here in the House Ethics Committee is what we’re going to do,” Rep. David R. Joyce, the ethics committee’s leader, told NBC News in May.
That was then, before all hell broke loose in the House thanks to one of the other Republicans the ethics committee is investigating: Rep. Matt Gaetz. The committee announced in July that it was reopening the Gaetz investigation after the Justice Department declined to prosecute him. The ethics probe was opened in April 2021 under a Democratic majority to look into public reports that Gaetz “engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift.”
Now Gaetz’s fellow Republicans are talking about expelling him—not for all of the above things that they should have kicked him over, but because he was the one who brought former Speaker Kevin McCarthy down. Fox News even reported that a number of Republicans were “preparing a motion to expel” Gaetz.
That fervor might cool a little when they’re looking at the possibility of even more scandals and indictments with Santos. The House GOP has just a nine-seat majority—just five votes can upend whatever the majority is trying to do. Shrinking that down at all by kicking people out—even when one of them might be Gaetz—is something they’ll have to think long and hard about. Do they want just three or four people to have that power? Do they want to give even more power to the likes of Rep. Nancy Mace?
They’re stuck with a fabulist fraudster and a sex pest chaos agent and all the other craven opportunists in their conference. In fact, the House GOP is more or less defined by them.