Rep. George Santos has named himself the treasurer of his campaign committee, marking the latest twist in a monthslong saga over puzzling filings his campaign has made with federal regulators.
The new filing, made late Friday afternoon with the Federal Election Commission, comes a little more than a week after federal prosecutors unveiled a 13-count criminal indictment, charging the New York Republican with wire fraud, fraudulently obtaining Covid-19 unemployment benefits and lying about his personal finances on forms he submitted to the US House of Representatives as a candidate. He has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Santos defended the move Saturday, saying it was to “ensure compliance.”
“My intent is to operate above reproach,” the freshman lawmakers said on Twitter. “We will continue to build our campaign around professionals with subject matter expertise.”
He added that FEC records will be updated to reflect the change.
Questions long have swirled about the identity of Santos’ campaign treasurer. This year, Santos’ campaign named a new treasurer identified as Andrew Olson, but federal and state records did not show anyone with that name serving as the treasurer of any other federal committees or any political committees operating in New York state.
At the time that Olson was added as treasurer, the address associated with him and Santos’ campaign was that of a mixed-use apartment and commercial building in Elmhurst, New York, where the congressman’s sister had resided until earlier this year.
Earlier this month, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington watchdog group, lodged a complaint with the Federal Election Commission questioning Olson’s existence and asking the agency to investigate whether the campaign had potentially violated campaign finance laws with filings that listed that person as treasurer.
Political committees are not allowed to raise or spend money without a treasurer. Candidates legally can serve as the treasurers of their own campaigns, but it is rare for them to do so.
In his short time in Washington, Santos’ campaign filings have faced intense scrutiny. They range from questions about dozens of campaign expenses listed at $199.99 – a penny below the threshold for which campaigns are required to retain receipts – to confusion about who was filing the treasurer’s role.
On January 25, for instance, Santos’ campaign listed a Wisconsin political consultant as replacing the congressman’s longtime treasurer Nancy Marks. But the consultant’s lawyer said the campaign had done so without his authorization, and that his client had turned down the job.
Then, on January 31, Marks informed the FEC that she had resigned. Later that day, Olson’s electronic signature first appeared on a Santos report.
Santos has argued in the past that the filings were not his responsibility.
“I don’t touch any of my FEC stuff, right?” he told CNN back in January. “So don’t be disingenuous and report that I did because you know that every campaign hires fiduciaries.”
This story has been updated with additional information.