Here is a detailed look at how some of that money was spent.
‘I’m needing some help’
The most eye-catching finding in the report dated from October 2022, days before Santos was elected to represent New York’s Third District.
At that time, representatives from Florida-based RedStone Strategies — where Santos had been a “managing director” since January — emailed two Santos contributors asking them for money.
Santos also hit up one of the donors personally, the report said, telling them: “I’m needing some help on the outside for next week on TV … Can I have the guys from the outside give you a buzz? Can you help?”
Each donor sent $25,000 to RedStone — but instead of going for TV ads, the money went into Santos’ bank accounts, from which it was used to, the committee said, “pay down personal credit card bills and other debt; make a $4,127.80 purchase at Hermes; and for smaller purchases at Only Fans [sic]; Sephora; and for meals and for parking.”
In March, Santos denied any knowledge of OnlyFans — a subscription service where users can pay for X-rated photos and videos from models.
“I’ll indulge you this, I just discovered what Only Fans was three weeks when it was brought up in a discussion in my office,” Santos told Fox Business Network in response to rumors he had an OnlyFans page..
“I was oblivious to the whole concept,” he added, to the disbelief of FBN host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery
“Ah, you just can’t tell the truth,” Montgomery muttered under her breath.
In all, Santos was paid at least $200,000 by RedStone Strategies during 2022, according to the report.
At one point, the then-candidate justified a $6,000 payment by telling an aide: “It’s for ads that we were supposed to pay and I forgot.”
“Prior to the $6,000 transfer, Representative Santos’ personal checking account had a balance of $136.93.148 … after the funds were deposited, $5,000 was withdrawn and personal credit card balances were paid,” the report noted.
Investigators also flagged that during Santos’ unsuccessful 2020 House run, a campaign debit card made a $1,500 purchase at Mirza Aesthetics.
“[T]his expense was not reported to the [Federal Election Commission] and was noted as ‘Botox’ in expense spreadsheets produced to [investigators] by [2020 campaign treasurer Nancy] Marks,” the report said.
The House ethics committee also noted that Santos’ 2022 campaign incurred “significant travel expenses for flights, hotels, Ubers, and meals.”
Some witnesses gave contradictory accounts about the extent of Santos’ travel. One witness recalled the lawmaker justifying the expenses by describing the meals as “donor dinners or constituent dinners or, you know, perspective donor dinners.”
However, another witness told investigators Santos traveled outside the Third District “once per month,” while a second skeptic said they were “worried about the look of the campaign spending all this money on … all these dinners and travel.”
The Office of Congressional Ethics flagged several expenses as potentially problematic, including $2,281.52 at resorts in Atlantic City in July 2022, a period when his calendar was largely blank. A former staffer told investigators that he “did not recall ‘any sort of fundraising or campaign things in Atlantic City,’ but did recall that Representative Santos told him that he enjoyed visiting casinos to play roulette, often with his husband.”
Weeks earlier, the ethics committee noted that Santos had spent $3,332.81 on an Airbnb, when the campaign’s calendar noted he was “off at [the] Hampton’s [sic] for the weekend.”
At one point in December 2021, while Santos told staffers he was on his honeymoon, taxi and hotel charges were made on the campaign’s credit card, the report claimed.
Santos’ Federal Election Commission filings were allegedly riddled with errors and omissions that the scandal-plagued congressman leveraged for personal use.
For example, in 2021, his campaign reported 40 disbursements that were either $199 or $200, but investigators couldn’t “verify the legitimacy of those expenses.”
In November of last year, Santos’ campaign transferred $20,000 to his Devolder Organization LLC consulting firm.
That money was then used to make $6,000 worth of purchases at Ferragamo stores, as well as pay Santos’ rent. Another $800 in cash was withdrawn near a casino, and another $1,000 was withdrawn from an ATM near Santos’ apartment, per the report.
Investigators also documented an array of campaign transfers to accounts liked to Marks and RISE, a New York political action committee managed by the lawmaker’s sister, Tiffany Santos.
Those transfers ran into the tens of thousands, according to the report.
Santos claimed to have loaned his campaign roughly $800,000 during both the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, filings with the FEC indicated.
However, the House Ethics Committee’s investigative subcommittee concluded that “most of the reported personal loans were not actually made or properly disclosed to the FEC.”
The panel found that there was no evidence that five out of six loans reported during Santos’ 2020 campaign were ever made.
Those loans helped make his campaign’s financial standing look much better than it was. For instance, in a July 15, 2020 filing, Santos reported $73,355.64 cash on hand, but probably only had $13,761.88, according to the report.
During his 2022 campaign, Santos reported three major loans, but for two of them — totaling $500,000 and $80,000, respectively — the panel again found no evidence they were actually made.
Prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, who slapped Santos with 23 counts, had taken note of the allegedly false $500,000 loan.
They surmised that it helped him qualify for a program that would give him additional support from the Republican Party.
Both prosecutors and ethics investigators alleged that Santos didn’t actually have that kind of money in his bank account and only had $8,000.
“Oh I made the $500,000 loan,” Santos assured CNN earlier this month. “I can guarantee you that I made the financial loans to my campaign that are on the record.”
Investigators further claimed that Santos was “improperly repaid for loans that were not made,” meaning the fake loans allegedly gave him an excuse to funnel money from his campaign coffers.
Santos has chalked up much of the blame to honest mistakes as well as misconduct by Marks.
But ethics investigators were unconvinced and underscored that staffers claimed to have flagged concerns about the bookkeeping to Santos.
“The [investigative subcommittee] was not swayed by Representative Santos’ attempts to blame others. He was the ultimate beneficiary,” the report said.
Prosecutors had also accused Santos of using donor credit cards for personal expenses.
When pressed about that earlier this month, Santos said he planned to compensate them.
“A lot of that happened in our campaign. And whenever people say, ‘Oh, I got charged,’ we will refund them. It’s on the reports to the best of my knowledge,” Santos told CNN.
Members of the panel’s investigative subcommittee spent months combing through thousands of records and interviewing witnesses to investigate Santos.
Following the bombshell report, Santos blasted the panel, accusing it of bias and announced that he will no longer pursue re-election.