The Daily Santos: Vol. 5

George and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weekend

I hope you had a restful weekend, unlike our pal George who spent it dodging so many stories that he was able to skip leg day at the gym. I know it’s been a few days since you’ve been served a sumptuous Santos buffet, but the smorgasbord is back and it’s time to eat.

Russian roulette

One of the first stories to bring down the Santos House of cards was a late November Daily Beast piece about a high rolling campaign donor who was the cousin of a Russian oligarch. Andrew Intrater and his wife both donated the legal maximum $5,800 to Santos plus a boatload of other related donations since his first run in 2020. 

But a Washington Post piece Monday uncovers that Intrater was more than just some random rich guy caught up in the Santos fracas.

…the evidence suggests Santos may have had a business relationship with Intrater as Santos was first entering politics in 2020. It also shows, according to the SEC filing, that Intrater put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Santos’ onetime employer, Harbor City, which was accused by regulators of running a Ponzi scheme. 

What’s most interesting to me about this revelation is that it muddies the answer to a question I and others have been asking since the start: Is Santos a useful idiot or a criminal mastermind? In my obsession with this story, I’ve tended to lean towards the former. But the fact that he had actual previous business dealings with Intrater makes me think that perhaps he was an active participant in the plan.

Sure, Kevin

For someone just elected Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy has had a laughably shitty start to the new year. Now he’s trying to convince us that he “always” knew George Santos, who has stolen the spotlight during what should be the most exciting time of his life, had a difficult relationship with the truth.

"I never knew all about his resume or not, but I always had a few questions about it," McCarthy told reporters on Monday. It’s unclear if these questions ever escaped the confines of his brain and passed through his lips.

Either way, he let Santos run unabated, and as of last week he was quoted as saying “The voters made the decision, and he has a right to serve here. If there is something that rises to the occasion that he did something wrong, then we'll deal with that at that time.”

Profiles in courage.

The G’s knees

As I wrote in the last Daily Santos, George not only pretended to be a star college volleyball player, but he was likely appropriating the actual lived experience of a real man named Pablo Oliveira. But it turns out he didn’t just casually mention this fun fact to the chairman of the Nassau County GOP: No, he somehow made the lie even more extreme and specific in a 2020 radio interview:

Honestly, naming the hospital really got me. Unparalleled commitment to storytelling.

Crying fraud

A TPM report on Saturday revealed that a Santos donor noticed credit card charges for large donations to the campaign that they say they never authorized. The anonymous donor says he incurred more than $15,000 in fraudulent charges, and entered into a lengthy dispute with WinRed, the Republican alternative to ActBlue. 

As they were working with WinRed, the donor said new charges began to appear on their American Express card. They provided TPM with copies of their credit card statements showing four more charges from the Santos campaign between June and July of 2021. 

These four new charges were for three different amounts that added up to $7,400. Two of the charges came on the same day. Combined with the two contributions that were refunded, the credit card statements provided by the donor indicates they were charged a total of $9,400 by the Santos campaign during the 2022 cycle. That amount is well over the legal limit for individual contributions in a given election cycle, which is $5,800. It is also, the donor said, not anything they intended to give.

While it’s difficult to muster sympathy for a wealthy Santos donor, this is straight up illegal. And it reveals for the umpteenth time the severely limited ability of the FEC to regulate campaign finance.

They knew

I may have to start doing an AM and PM edition of this thing, because this story dropped literally a second after I hit send on Friday, and it’s a necessary piece of the puzzle in case you missed it. Turns out the Santos campaign ran a routine background check on their guy as just like, a fun little exercise, and they ended up finding “a pattern of deception that cut to the heart of the image he had cultivated as a wealthy financier.”

People on his own staff urged him to drop out. Others quit. (None felt strong enough to go to the press, but alas!) The report hit all the greatest hits: the fake degree; the ponzi scheme; the evictions. But perhaps most shocking is that it found he had been married to a woman for eight years despite his claims of living as a proud gay man during that time period. 

I once again marvel at the fact that his Democratic opponent Robert Zimmerman was unable to find this information and leverage it against Santos. If Santos’ campaign had the ability to do it, ostensibly so did they.

In a new interview Zimmerman tells CBS News, “Our campaign was not in a position to send a team to Brazil to check out his background…[or] hire a genealogist to check out his Jewish ancestry.” Okay, but you couldn’t do a basic background check? The voters of NY-03 frankly deserve better than both these guys.

And finally…

I was fully expecting—excited for, even—George to tweet an MLK quotation that was actually said by like Edgar Allan Poe or something to mark the birthday of the civil rights icon. But in a rare show of honesty, the one he chose can actually be attributed to Dr. King. We call that growth.

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