george santos

Santos Reportedly Denies Stealing Dying Dog's Charity as Pressure Mounts

Rep. George Santos has admitted to an extensive series of lies about his background and his finances, and he faces accusations of even more fabrications

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While embattled Rep. George Santos received his committee seats Tuesday, there are new calls for a deeper dive into his past.

Among the latest twists in the saga was a report from Tuesday night, thoroughly detailing an allegation that Santos — under an alias — sponsored a fundraiser for a disabled veteran's ailing service dog, and then kept the money instead.

"I'm embarrassed that I allowed him to screw me and my dog over like this, it's embarrassing. I knew there was something wrong from the get-go," said Rich Osthoff, the New Jersey veteran who said he had been duped by Santos. "He should be ashamed of himself, but he doesn't have shame. He's a psychopath."

Osthoff told Patch that after he got no money from the GoFundMe page, he eventually had to put his dog, Sapphire, down.

"He’s responsible for the dog being in pain. He’s responsible for her suffering. And he almost was responsible for me committing suicide, that was how hard it hit me," Osthoff said.

The new allegation sparked a fresh wave of indignation about the congressman's many alleged misdeeds — though he texted the publication Semafor to flatly deny the story, calling the story "fake" and saying he has "no clue who this is." NBC News reached out to Santos as well for comment, but had not received a response as of Wednesday night.

In a statement to NBC New York, the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe issued a statement that reads: "When we received a report of an issue with this fundraiser in late 2016, our trust and safety team sought proof of the delivery of funds from the organizer.  The organizer failed to respond, which led to the fundraiser being removed and the email associated with that account prohibited from further use on our platform. GoFundMe has a zero tolerance policy for misuse of our platform and cooperates with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing."

The dog story follows previous New York Times reporting on questions around Santos' animal charity efforts, including claims that other raised funds did not get to their intended recipients.

It comes as there are new questions about statements he made about his mother and 9/11. In the past, Santos said that his mother was at her office inside the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but records obtained by NBC News on Wednesday show she was living in Brazil at the time.

Immigration records, unearthed through a Freedom of Information Act request by genealogical researcher Alex Calzareth and first reported by The Washington Post, show that Santos’ mother, Fatima Caruso Devolder, was admitted to the U.S. in April 2003 and had not been in the country since 1999. She had been living in Rio de Janeiro.

Additionally, a fellow New York congressman has called for the Federal Election Commission to investigate potential illegal activity from the Republican's campaign — while House Speaker Kevin McCarthy admitted that he and his team knew there were questions about Santos’ credibility before the election.

Rep. Ritchie Torres of the Bronx visited the voters of Santos’s district on Long Island on Tuesday, telling them he had filed a letter with the FEC to look into the matter. Torres, a Democrat, alleged Santos’s false bio — with made-up details about where he worked and attended schools — combined with unusual financial disclosures may prove illegal. 

"The $700,000 question is: Where did all the money come?" Torres said. "My message to Mr. Santos: This will not end well for you. You should resign."

Just last week, Santos slammed the coverage of his travails as "media nonsense," as he defiantly insisted he had no plans to resign from Congress. He has said that all he did was embellish a resumé, and that an ethics investigation of his biography will not deter him from serving.

McCarthy on Tuesday confirmed that will indeed get committee seats and added responsibilities. He was seated on the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

However, McCarthy also admitted that his own team had some suspicions about Santos even before he was elected, due to the actions of a member of his staff.

"My staff raised concerns when he had a staff member who impersonated my chief of staff, and that person was let go," McCarthy said. "I never knew about his resume but I always had a few questions about it."

The newly elected House Speaker said he has no plans to take action against Santos, saying that it's up to voters — not him — to decide Santos' fate. McCarthy's remarks, echoing other recent comments he’s made, drew reaction from one newly elected Democrat from New York.

"We are very concerned about the degree to which Republican leadership was complicit in Santos's scheme to defraud his voters," said freshman Rep. Dan Goldman, a former prosecutor.

Goldman said aides to top Republican Elise Stefanik even helped Santos re-staff his campaign when several others quit. Stefanik could not be reached for comment.

Political activists have launched the "Where's George?" campaign urging Long Islanders to take a picture of Santos if they see him and upload it, as he is not in his rightful office. Andrew Siff reports.

A Nassau County lawmaker said it's time to take something valuable away from Santos.

"I have written a letter asking the secretary to revoke George Santos’s passport," said Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, a Democrat and frequent Santos critic. "It has become clear Santos thinks he can simply ride this out."

A spokeswoman for Santos — with the embattled congressman expected back in New York over the recess — declined comment.

"I came here to serve the people, not politicians and party leaders, and I'm going to do just that," Santos said in an interview with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz on Steve Bannon's "War Room" program last week. "I was elected by 142,000 people. Until those same 142,000 people tell me they don't want me, we'll find out in two years."

"I've worked my entire life, I’ve lived an honest life, I’ve never been accused, sued of any bad doings," Santos said - declining to specifically answer Gaetz's repeated questions about the source of $700,000 he lent to his campaign.

"I'll tell you where it didn’t come from: China. Ukraine. How about that?" he said during the mostly friendly interview, before pivoting to say that he's focused on working on the issues that matter to his constituents — like addressing a crime ring of auto thefts in affluent neighborhoods in his congressional district.

George Santos said on Steve Bannon's War Room that he's staying put. Gilma Avalos reports.

His comments came after virtually the entire Republican leadership of New York called on Santos to resign from Congress, saying he was "disgraced" and needed to step aside.

The Jan. 11 call from leadership of his own party was the strongest yet against the embattled freshman, who represents New York's 3rd District, comprising parts of Queens and much of Nassau County. As of last week, six of the other 10 GOP members of the New York congressional delegation have now called for Santos to go.

"George Santos' campaign last year, was a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication," Nassau County GOP Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo, Jr. said, while joined by roughly three dozen GOP elected officials, calling him a stain on the party and Congress. "He deceived the voters of the 3rd Congressional District. He deceived the members of the Nassau County Republican Committee, elected officials, his colleagues, candidates, his opponents and even some of the media."

In recent weeks, Santos has admitted to lying about his educational background, his work experience and his investments -- and he faces a growing list of alleged fabrications and purported financial misconduct that he has not yet acknowledged or refuted.

"His lies were not mere fibs," Cairo went on to say. "He disgraced the House of Representatives. In particular, his fabrications went too far, many groups were hurt — specifically, I look at those families who were touched by the horrors of the Holocaust." (Santos also allegedly lied about his grandparents surviving the Holocaust.)

Cairo went on to call for Santos' "immediate resignation" saying that the disgraced congressman is not welcomed at GOP headquarters in Nassau County.

"He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Committee, nor should he serve in public service, nor as an elected official," Cairo said. "He is not welcomed here at republican headquarters, for meetings or any other events...we do not consider him one of our congress people. Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling him for his immediate resignation."

NBC New York's Greg Cergol reports.

Republican donors say they were "duped" by Santos; Democrats have already filed ethics complaints against him, and a campaign finance watchdog has also lodged a complaint with the Federal Election Commission regarding fundraising irregularities.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald X. Clavin, Jr. said Santos has united the country in their opposition towards him.

"He's a national joke. He's an international joke, but this joke's gotta go," Clavin said.

Following the Nassau County GOP leaders' press conference, the Conservative Party of New York State also issued a statement calling on Santos to resign.

"The New York State Conservative Party stands with Nassau County Republicans in calling on newly elected Rep. George Santos to resign. Mr. Santos’s profound use of mistruths as a candidate morally disqualifies him from serving in public office and exposes him to potential legal action, seriously compromising his ability to represent his constituents," the statement reads in part.

Rep. Nick Langworthy, the chairman of the state GOP, also issued a statement calling on Santos to go.

Santos has called the fabrications on his official campaign biography merely resumé embellishments. But questions about his truthfulness have only snowballed. The freshman congressman’s falsehoods include not only details of his education and job history, but also his criminal history in Brazil, his nonprofit charity and about being Jewish.

Were Santos to resign, Gov. Kathy Hochul would have 10 days to call a special election to replace him, which would have to be held between 70 to 80 days from the date of that proclamation.

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