US Rep. George Santos repays himself $85K raised from lackluster re-election fundraising

Embattled freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos, a Republican from New York charged with a host of financial crimes, including embezzling money from his campaign, withdrew $85,000 from his campaign to help repay hundreds of thousands of dollars he loaned himself to get elected in 2022.

Congressional campaign records released Friday show Santos raised a relatively paltry $138,000 during the last three months for a reelection bid that is expected to be one of the country’s most-watched and hotly contested races in 2024.

The records show he spent nearly $118,000, the bulk of it to begin repaying the more than $700,000 he loaned himself for his successful but surprising victory last year.

The underwhelming fundraising suggests potential struggles in fending off a challenge from fellow Republican Kellen Curry, an Afghanistan war veteran and former J.P. Morgan banker, who raised more than $200,000 and spent $36,000 during the same period.

Meanwhile, the top Democrat vying for New York’s Third Congressional District, Nassau County legislator Joshua Lafazan, has raised more than $345,000, with much of it still in the bank.

Santos pleaded not guilty in May to a 13-count federal indictment charging him with looting his campaign coffers, fraudulently receiving unemployment and lying to Congress about being a millionaire. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

A day later, he signed an agreement with Brazilian officials that allowed him to avoid prosecution for forging two stolen checks in 2008.

Despite his legal woes, Santos has vowed to fight to keep his congressional seat, which mostly encompasses the western suburbs of Long Island but also straddles parts of the Queens borough in New York City.

Fellow Republicans in his home district and elsewhere, including some fellow GOP members in the state’s congressional delegation, have urged him to abandon his reelection plans.

Complicating matters is whether congressional districts will again have to be redrawn, which could mean trouble for some Republican incumbents if congressional lines are moved to make districts more favorable to Democrats.

Santos announced his reelection bid in April, despite a steady drumbeat calling for his resignation because of his many deceptions during his last campaign, including lying about his education, Wall Street pedigree and other resume fabrications.

Serious questions about his finances also surfaced — including the source of what appears to be a quickly amassed fortune despite recent financial problems, including evictions and owing thousands in back rent.

Santos is also facing investigation by the House Ethics Committee, as well as by local authorities looking into whether he has violated any laws during his previous campaign.

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Lindsay Gaar represents city at Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.