"At nearly every opportunity, he placed his desire for private gain above his duty to uphold the Constitution, federal law, and ethical principles," the House Ethics Committee says of Santos in a new report
The committee claimed to have found "substantial evidence" of wrongdoing by the freshman congressman — including allegedly misusing campaign funds for his own personal purposes, like purchasing Botox injections, OnlyFans subscriptions and items from French retailers Sephora and Hermès.
The House Ethics Committee is not the first to accuse Santos of stealing campaign money — he was hit with a 23-count federal indictment this year that tells a similar narrative, featuring a variety of theft and fraud charges involving his congressional campaign. (Santos pleaded not guilty to each of the criminal charges and has not yet gone to trial.)
Below, a roundup of the things Santos is accused of unlawfully buying with campaign funds, according to investigators.
According to the committee's report, Santos "deceived donors into providing what they thought were contributions to his campaign but were in fact payments for his personal benefit." That allegedly includes getting Botox injections.
The report details how a $1,500 purchase at a medical spa in 2020 was noted as "Botox" in expense reports. Two other charges on the campaign debit card — one for $1,400 and one for $1,029.30 — also reportedly appear to have gone toward Botox and various spas.
OnlyFans, Luxury Goods and Items from Sephora
Elsewhere in the report, the House Ethics Committee alleges that a $50,000 campaign donation was deposited into Santos’ personal accounts, with the funds then being used to "pay down personal credit card bills and other debt" and make unrelated purchases — reportedly including on OnlyFans, a subscription-based social media platform most commonly used for pornography.
The campaign donation also allegedly funded meals, parking, items from Sephora, and — in one case — a $4,127.80 purchase at luxury brand Hermès, according to the House Ethics report.
Travel to Atlantic City and an Urgent Care Visit
The House Ethics report details how Santos' campaign "incurred significant travel expenses for flights, hotels, Ubers, and meals," and that witnesses affiliated with the campaign had conflicting testimony regarding the lawmaker's travel outside of his district.
While one witness testified to the committee that there were only two trips taken out of state during the campaign — to Washington, D.C., and Florida — others claimed Santos traveled as much as “once per month."
In addition to the travel expenses, the committee identified some specific alleged expenditures as "raising concerns of potential personal use of campaign funds," including $2,281.52 spent at resorts in Atlantic City, New Jersey, from July 23 to July 24, 2022; $1,400 at Virtual Skin Spa in Jericho, New York, in July 2022; and $225 at CityMD urgent care in Huntington, New York, in August 2022.
Designer Clothing and Personal Debts
In an indictment unsealed in May, prosecutors allege that Santos used campaign funds to pay for expensive designer clothing and to pay off personal debts, including credit card bills.
Santos "falsely represented that ... contributions would be spent on television advertisements" in support of his political campaign, the indictment details, and "allegedly told donors that the company he set up for campaign contributions was 'a small C4' that existed 'just to help this race' and there were 'no limits' with respect to contributions."
That, investigators charge, was a lie and flies in the face of campaign finance law, which dictates that individuals are limited to contributing up to $2,900 per election per candidate committee.
According to the indictment, one donor wired $25,000 to a company Santos claimed was affiliated with his campaign. Shortly after, the indictment alleges the funds were transferred directly to Santos himself, and used "for his personal benefit, including to make cash withdrawals, personal purchases of luxury designer clothing, credit card payments, a car payment, payments on personal debts, and one or more bank transfers" to a personal associate.
House ethics investigators say Santos bragged about having personal wealth and driving a Maserati, despite that he appears to have only had one car loan for a 2015 Mercedez-Benz and that he “was frequently in debt, had an abysmal credit score, and relied on an ever-growing wallet of high-interest credit cards to fund his luxury spending habits,” according to the report.
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In May, Santos was arrested and indicted on 13 criminal counts alleging fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements; in October, prosecutors announced they had added 10 new charges to the indictment, bringing the total number of criminal counts against him to 23.
The committee that released Thursday's report says it has evidence of "additional uncharged and unlawful conduct" by the Republican, which it recommends referring to the Department of Justice.
Though Santos ended his 2024 reelection campaign on Thursday, he has so far refused to resign from Congress.
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