Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan held a press conference Thursday, Feb. 2, in front of the Douglaston office of Congressman George Santos to announce that he will be sending a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling for an immediate federal monitor to oversee Santos’ campaign funds.
This request comes after confirmation that there is a new FBI investigation into Santos related to him allegedly pocketing the $3,000 from a GoFundMe he made to pay for the lifesaving surgery of a homeless veteran’s service dog.
Lafazan brought up the uncertainty surrounding who Santos’ treasurer is. After his first treasurer, Nancy Marks, resigned, the replacement Santos listed, Thomas Datwyler, claimed not to have that job. The third treasurer Santos listed, Andrew Olsen, failed to file with the Federal Election Commission.
“We need to make sure George Santos, who is the most desperate he’s ever been, cannot use his campaign fund as an emergency slush fund to continue to fund the lies and deceits and fraud that he is perpetrating on voters in this district,” Lafazan said. “There is nobody overseeing, from a fiduciary standpoint, George Santos’ campaign.”
In arguing for a federal monitor, Lafazan raised some red flags from Santos’ Jan. 31 filing. In addition to questioning who oversees the fund, Lafazan questioned why and how the campaign spent $26,032.06 at the Queens Italian restaurant Il Bacco. The filing also stated that a relative of Santos donated $5,800 to the campaign, but they have denied doing so.
Additionally, there are payments listed for expenses that don’t seem to add up. There was an expense of $199.99 for an overnight stay at a Florida hotel that charges around $700 a night. Another claimed to have paid more than $200 in consecutive days at a diner when one of its managing partners denied having any receipts matching the reports by the campaign. There were also listing payments as low as $3 to as high as $100 for parking at a public beachside lot in Miami Beach, which raised eyebrows for the city’s parking department.
Lafazan also pointed out that Santos admitted to campaign finance violations in his Jan. 31 filing. According to the filing, Santos received a $10,000 donation, which far exceeds the $2,900 limit. Lafazan also finds it suspicious that Santos took in $16,000 after the New York Times story exposed his lies.
If Lafazan successfully gets the attorney general to implement a federal monitor on Santos, all expenditures and receipts from the campaign will be reviewed. Lafazan fears that, without a federal monitor, Santos could pose a danger to his constituents given his shady past.
“It is clear that George Santos having unfettered access to tens of thousands of dollars with no confirmed treasurer makes him dangerous,” Lafazan said. “We need a federal monitor to protect the donor money that was donated, to protect the people in this district and to protect the public integrity of our democratic system and our elections.”
Lafazan also called upon House Majority Speaker Kevin McCarthy to expel Santos. He argued that allowing Santos to continue to serve not only demeans himself but also all those who serve in the House of Representatives and McCarthy as the leader. He urged McCarthy to put country over the party regarding this issue by bringing it to a vote and encouraging his Republican colleagues to expel Santos. Assuming all Democrats vote in favor of his expulsion, 78 Republican votes would be needed to oust Santos.