Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan led a press conference Jan. 31 outside Congressman George Santos’ Douglaston office, calling upon the Federal Election Committee (FEC) to include the “ghost donations” from Santos’ 2020 campaign as part of their investigation into him.
Lafazan said believes these false documented donations violate federal law.
His letter to the FEC comes after reports that Santos raised at least $30,000 for his failed 2020 congressional campaign from people who either don’t exist or never resided in the addresses stated in the campaign fundraising disclosures. Additionally, some who were listed that do live at the specified addresses have stated they never donated any money to Santos’ campaign.
“I think it’s beyond disgusting that we’re allowing someone so disgusting and such a liar to be sitting in our United States Congress,” Jericho High School student Scarlet Savel said. “I think the the fact that he hasn’t resigned yet shows how much of a sick person he is and I think that something needs to be done now, if not before the next election.”
Among the listed ghost donors in question are Rafael Da Silva, Streven Caruso, Carlos Suarez and Lesley Goodman. Da Silva, who shares the same name with a Brazilian soccer star, was listed as living at a residence at an address that does not exist. Caruso was listed as living on a road in Manhattan that does not exist. Suarez never lived in the ZIP code provided by Santos’ filing. According to public records, Goodman does not live in the state of New York.
According to Lafazan, he believes that Santos was able to funnel money from unknown sources exceeding the maximum allowable $2,900 donation per person. If this is indeed found to be the case, the legislator pointed out that Santos would have broken federal law.
“Ghost donations and ghost donors, circumventing campaign finance laws to take money from a source and to get around those rules, is illegal,” Legislator Lafazan said. “This should disqualify [Santos] on its own from serving on the United States Congress. We’ve asked the FEC to include this charge in their investigation. Just because he lost in 2020 doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be held accountable. It shows that George Santos has engaged in a conspiracy to defraud voters in this district for well over three years. This is two consecutive campaigns that he has lied to voters of this district.”
The letter from Lafazan wasn’t the only news to come out Tuesday about Santos.
Shortly before the press conference, Santos had announced that he will be recusing himself from House Committee assignments. He had previously been assigned by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Small Business Committee. According to his Republican colleagues, Santos said he was recusing himself while investigations around him are ongoing.
“When both parties are coming out to make a stand, that says a lot,” Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce Vice President Ravin Chetram said. “I am happy that the Republican party of Nassau is asking him to resign. It concerns me very highly that someone who’s supposed to represent us isn’t representing us. We do need to open businesses, help us get through the pandemic, help us get through the financial crisis that’s going on and to keep people together in the community. But with this kind of representation, it’s not happening.”