Campaign finance regulator asks Santos to clarify who’s in charge of his political accounts

Campaign finance regulator asks Santos to clarify who’s in charge of his political accounts

The Federal Election Commission lobbed questions at Rep. George Santos over his latest campaign finance filings on Friday, saying five committees affiliated with the embattled congressman may have “failed to include the true, correct, or complete treasurer information.”

The letters — the latest in a long series of correspondence between the FEC and Santos’ campaign — follow the campaign’s apparent attempt to hire a new treasurer amid intense scrutiny.

A flurry of amended quarterly filings for Santos’ campaign on Tuesday were signed by Nancy Marks, his longtime campaign treasurer. But further amendments to statements of organization for Santos’ congressional committee on Wednesday listed Tom Datwyler, a treasurer for many GOP candidates, in the role. A lawyer for Datwyler, however, said he had not agreed to serve as treasurer for the Santos campaign, stating that the Wednesday filings reflected a miscommunication.

Santos told CNN on Wednesday that he had no involvement with the amended filings, saying he “[did] not touch any of [his] FEC stuff.” It was still not clear on Friday who actually filed the Wednesday amendments that bore Datwyler’s electronic signature, although the number of people who would typically have access to a congressional campaign’s system for submitting filings to the FEC is small.

Neither Santos’ attorney nor Marks responded to multiple inquiries this week about who is currently serving as the campaign’s treasurer.

Campaigns are required to have a treasurer in order to carry out most functions, including accepting contributions. Santos’ campaign was still listed as accepting contributions via WinRed, the widely used Republican fundraising platform, as of Friday. WinRed processed more than $1 million in transactions for his campaign during the 2022 cycle, according to a POLITICO analysis of FEC data.

The company did not respond to inquiries about Santos’ use of its platform this week. But NBC News reported on Friday that the company had reached out to the Santos campaign over its reports, which show the committee paying more than $200,000 in fees to WinRed. That’s a greater total than would be expected based on the campaign’s total fundraising on the platform.

Santos, who was sworn into Congress earlier this month just weeks after The New York Times reported he had fabricated much of his biography, is also facing several campaign finance complaints before the FEC.

Complaints filed by nonprofits including the Campaign Legal Center and End Citizens United allege Santos may not have had the personal funds to loan his campaign the $700,000 it reported receiving from him last year, and the complaints also allege that his campaign may have misreported components of its spending. The Santos campaign reported dozens of transactions charged at exactly $199.99, just 1 cent below the threshold that required the campaign to keep receipts detailing the expenditures. Federal and local prosecutors are also investigating Santos’ finances, but he has not been charged with a crime.

The FEC has sent more than two dozen letters to Santos’ campaign and affiliated groups in the past two years. While the agency frequently sends such letters to campaigns to correct mistakes in filings, Santos’ political groups have received more of the notices than is typical.

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Author: By Jessica Piper