Jan 10, 2023
George Santos’ Campaign Accused of Posing as McCarthy’s Top Staffer to Raise Money Transcript
Newly sworn-in Republican Congressman George Santos started his first week in office by facing a formal ethics complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Developing tonight, the scandal surrounding Long Island Congressman George Santos is growing with new claims of falsehoods and fabrications. New reporting indicates a member of Santos’s campaign tried to raise money by posing as a top staffer to Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy. And this comes as Santos faces sweeping accusations of breaking campaign finance laws.
Our team on Capitol Hill tried to talk to Santos today as he entered his office. He says he’ll address the media soon on his time. CNBC political finance reporter, Brian Schwartz first broke these new campaign allegations. He joins us now live. Brian, first, tell us more about this staffer, what he’s accused of doing, and if Santos knew about what was happening.
Brian Schwartz (00:45):
That’s really the big question here, guys, is really did George Santos know what was happening within his own campaign? But let’s just take a step back and talk about Mr. Santos for a minute. It starts with him, it goes to the staffer, but there were efforts here to at least embellish, if not lie, to certain donors by Santos himself.
We actually detail that in the story on cnbc.com. He would be at private fundraisers. This is on the record from a donor we spoke with and he would talk about his work on Wall Street. He has never been employed, at least to our knowledge, by a firm on Wall Street, at least has never worked directly for Citi Group or Goldman Sachs. So let’s just look ahead for one second.
In terms of the staffer, us at CNBC and also The Washington Times are both reporting that there was one campaign fundraising staffer who did impersonate as Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff to top donors to raise money for George Santos’s campaign. And this is really key in this point too. It was during the 2022 election cycle, Mr. Santos’s successful election cycle, but also we’re being told most likely also during the 2020 election cycle when George Santos ran the first time.
So this has really become a pattern here from not just Mr. Santos, but also from people around him. And this goes back to are there questions of if finance laws are broken here, we will see going forward.
Speaker 1 (02:13):
Going back to what these donors are telling you, are they saying that they donated to the campaign in part because of how George Santos represented himself? Were they compelled to help because of some of these things that he has now we’ve learned fabricated or flat out lied about?
Brian Schwartz (02:29):
Well, that’s exactly right. The people we spoke with, the donors, the operatives in the Republican Party are saying that many of the fabrications by George Santos himself did lead to them giving. And that is key to this, that his stories that he gave to these donors, that he said to these donors in private, maybe even publicly depending on where they were at, who knows, it did lead to them giving to his campaign and helping George Santos’s 2022 election campaign raise a few million bucks. That’s not nothing. And I think that when you look at that on top of what there was an FEC complaint brought against Santos’s campaign by the Campaign Legal Center, which is a nonprofit group. He could be in some trouble here.
Speaker 1 (03:10):
So I think as these accusations are coming out, everyone’s wondering what’s next at this point. It’s a complaint, right? Neither he or the staffer has been charged with a crime. At least one prominent House Republican expects that the ethics committee will investigate Santos. Can you tell us what other legal and political jeopardy could he face?
Brian Schwartz (03:28):
So when you look at the FEC complaint that the Campaign Legal Center brought, they go much further. I think that my reporting, and I think I speak for the other reporters, other reporters reporting when it comes to one particular element, and that’s the loan that George Santos gave to his campaign in 2022. It was over $700,000 loan.
And a piece of that complaint brought to the FEC today, the Federal Election Commission, was that allegedly that that loan may not be what it seems, that it could have been part of a straw donor scheme. Now, George Santos has said that he has not broken any laws, that the only thing he’s done is embellish his resume. That’s what he has told others in various interviews.
Again, we’ll see if there’s going to be any legal implications for this for George Santos, but I think I can say pretty confidently that if he gets through this and if he runs for Congress again, it is going to be very, very difficult for George Santos to raise as much as he raised this time around because there’s just so much distrust coming from big donors across the state, across the country, and really Republican leaders in some cases across the board.
Speaker 1 (04:34):
Okay. CNBC.com political finance reporter, Brian Schwartz. We appreciate your reporting and we appreciate you being here with us. Thank you so much.
Brian Schwartz (04:40):