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Kitara Ravache, You In Danger, Gurl
The Fabulist Rep. George Santos’s time is almost up
For George Anthony Devolder Santos, AKA the Fabulous Drag Queen Kitara Ravache, the truth finally caught up.
The House Ethics Committee has issued a damning report after reviewing 170,000 documents and authorizing 37 subpoenas. Santos “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” it concluded, “through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience.”
The bipartisan Committee voted unanimously to refer its findings to the Justice Department, concluding Santos’s conduct was found to be “beneath the dignity of the office, and to have brought severe discredit upon the House.”
We already know Santos made up his background. He never worked at Citibank or Goldman Sachs. He was not an experienced financial advisor. He didn’t go to NYU. He’s not Jew-“ish.”
The report confirmed his finances are made up, too. He listed donors who never existed and claimed donations he never raised to inflate his worth and fool others into giving him more money.
Sound like anyone you know?
Santos falsely claimed he had loaned money to his campaign, then paid himself back personally at a profit. He also illegally funneled campaign funds to a company he controlled and used campaign funds for personal expenses, including designer shoes, Botox treatments and Only Fans subscriptions.
Now, his colleagues have prepared a new motion to expel him from Congress, and the Ethics Committee Report may just sway enough votes against him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the GOP refuses to expel him out of fear of further narrowing their already thin House majority.
Today, I’ll highlight some of the Report’s most incredible findings. Then I’ll discuss where things go from here with those 23 federal indictments and his imperiled future in Congress. Will the GOP cut him loose now or wait until after he’s convicted next year?
Either way, it’s all looking pretty bleak for Santos.
From a poor kid from Brazil to the Halls of Congress
Throughout the past nearly two years, intrepid reporters have unearthed a trove of questionable financial dealings, false claims and faked ledgers. And federal prosecutors moved this year to indict Santos and have since gained the cooperation of his co-conspirator, Nancy Marks, on whom Santos has tried to pin all of this malfeasance.
The House Ethics Committee put all of this into a handy report that lays it out clearly backed up with receipts and meticulous documentation. The best way to understand how he pulled off the fraud is to cut through the smoke and mirrors.
How does a broke kid from Brazil wind up with a fabulous lifestyle and walking the halls of Congress?
First, he invents a backstory of family wealth and personal achievement. He isn’t working for Verizon in the call center, he’s got an MBA! And a trust fund! And he’s got a heart of gold, too, helping all those poor dogs in need of medical care—while actually pocketing the gofundme money for himself and letting the dogs die.
But beyond the petty, heartless scams, he’s got bigger goals. In fact, as a successful, Latin, gay, Jew-ish bank advisor, he’s an ideal political candidate, right?
Yes, he’s running for Congress! It’s actually a near perfect fit for his lies: The bigger and more brazen they are, the more campaign money he’ll rake in.
But how to get started? The same way his other scams did. Create false stories and documents to make it seem like he’s got a lot of support and a bunch of individual donors, so that the RNC gives him more money.
Then, in come those actual campaign donations. But Santos has a problem. He needs access to those funds for his fabulous new life of travel, fancy clothes and fine dining. Those pesky campaign reporting laws are in the way.
So he creates shell companies that he claims are doing work for the campaign, and he pays those companies from his campaign funds. Problem solved! Now he can pay himself quietly from those shell companies. And if his campaign just reports everything at $199, he doesn’t have to come up with actual receipts for the expenses! What a gravy train!
Here’s the crazy, ironic thing: George Santos got caught doing all this only because he actually won his election. He engaged in a lot of this kind of fraud back in his 2020 race, but no one noticed because he lost. Had he lost again in 2022, no one would have followed up on this trail of deception.
Now the scheme apparently goes beyond Santos and may involve others in the larger Republican circles in the Greater New York area, all connected in some way to Santos or to his corrupt treasurer, Marks.
The Committee’s principal findings
Here are some of the primary factual findings of the Report, which lays out all of Santos’s lies and fraud. These are drawn in large measure from the summaries of the Washington Post and of Ron Filipkowski of the Meidas Touch Network.
Santos did not have family wealth, as he repeatedly claimed. There was no family “trust” worth millions. In fact, he was broke nearly all the time.
He does not own any real property at all, contrary to his claims of an apartment in Rio and his 13 alleged rental properties (which he falsely cited as evidence of how the pandemic rent moratorium had affected him as a “landlord”)
He did not have any background in wealth management or financial advising and had never worked at the banks he listed as his employers.
His own staff saw through his facade and urged him to seek “treatment” for his lies and fabulist behavior. They even prepared a comprehensive “opposition” report on him, urging him to drop out of the race in December 2021. He refused, and three of them resigned in protest.
He listed fake contributor names and members of his own family, who never gave him anywhere close to $5,600 each. Santos tried to blame his treasurer, Marks, for the fake filings. But his prints are all over the scheme and he had personally directed her to make the false filings.
He reported multiple expenses at $199 to come in under the $200 recordkeeping requirement for campaign expenses.
He made fake loans to his campaign, including a massive one of nearly $800,000, to make it appear like he had money in the bank. He used those fake reports to qualify for money from the RNC and to lure more donors. In fact, the campaign was nearly broke and one staffer went unpaid for eight months.
He received payments from an unnamed individual and from two businesses he controlled, then loaned this money to his campaign. This appears to have broken campaign finance laws because it hides the actual source of the money.
He transferred campaign funds to his shell companies he secretly controlled, including a company called “Red Strategies” in Florida, by having his campaign pay it as a “consultant.” He then transferred money from that company—over $200,000—into his own personal bank account.
Another shell company controlled by Santos, Redstone, received funds from wealthy donors on the false pretense it would be used for his campaign.
Santos used campaign money, held in Redstone, for his own personal expenses, including rent and money for gambling. (He prefers roulette, which I should note is the game with the worst casino odds.)
He used campaign funds for high end shopping sprees, personal hotel stays, spas, Botox and an Only Fans account.
What’s next for George Santos?
In any sane world, the GOP would have kicked Santos out of Congress long ago. And certainly, with the unanimous, bipartisan report of the Ethics Committee, there is no argument now that Congress needs to wait because Santos hasn’t been afforded due process. He had ample opportunity to respond to the Ethics Committee allegations, but he failed to do even remotely satisfactorily.
The problem is that, with Santos gone and a Democrat likely to replace him, that would bring the GOP margin down further so they could afford to lose just two votes. This would grant even more power to any small group of three House members who want to block the agenda of their own leaders. Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) said the quiet part out loud to Axios, asking “why would we want to expel a guy … [when] we’ve got a three-seat, four-seat majority. What are we doing?”
On the other hand, if they don’t boot Santos now, he will be a festering presence throughout 2024. Worse still, as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post notes, Santos’s trial is set to begin in September of next year. If he is still in Congress, he would become the face of the congressional GOP going into the election, which could wipe out their chances for holding the House.
Looking at this scenario, and at Santos’s incredible history of fraud, it’s hard not to draw parallels with Donald Trump. Both are consummate conmen, inflating their net worths through false statements in order to attract more funds. Both are men the GOP establishment would love to jettison but still need in order to hang on to power. Both had the crimes of their past unearthed because they actually won their elections. And both are now facing serious criminal charges that juries likely will hear sometime next year.
Now, for the sake of our Republic, we need to see both convicted and sentenced to prison.