George Santos: Justice Department lawyers ask FEC to investigate New York congressman

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The Justice Department has asked the Federal Election Commission to halt any perjury enforcement action against Republican Congressman George Santos of New York. Highlights of his biographyProsecutors are conducting a parallel criminal investigation, according to two people familiar with the request.

The request, which came from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division, is a clear indication that federal prosecutors are probing Santos’ campaign finances.

According to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, the FEC requested that the Justice Department provide any relevant documents.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. An FEC spokeswoman said the regulator “cannot comment on enforcement.” Neither Santos nor his attorney responded to requests for comment.

The 34-year-old congressman, who was elected to Congress last year from Long Island, helping the GOP win its narrow majority, apologized for what he called “resume embellishment.” The refusal calls for his resignation.

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday interviewed two people about Santos’ role. The port city is the capital, an investment firm shut down in 2021 after the SEC accused it of operating a “classic Ponzi scheme.” SEC interest in those individuals came after them Cited Wednesday In the Washington Post detailing how Santos sought to invest in Harbor City, an Italian restaurant in Queens, in late 2020.

The FEC generally complies with DOJ requests to cease enforcement. Those requests stem from a 1977 memorandum of understanding that specified overlapping law enforcement responsibilities.

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“Basically they don’t want two sets of investigators tripping over each other,” said former FEC Commissioner David M. Mason said. “They don’t want anything the FEC, a civil agency, does to complicate their criminal case.”

Brett Kappel, a campaign finance attorney at DC-based Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, said it “indicates that there is an active criminal investigation” examining issues that overlap with the complaints against Santos before the FEC.

Those complaints include one filed earlier this month Campaign Law Center, pay particular attention to the more than $700,000 Santos claims he loaned his 2022 campaign. CLC’s complaint alleges Santos concealed the source of those funds, while misrepresenting campaign expenditures and using campaign resources to cover personal expenses.

On Wednesday, the Santos campaign filed paperwork with the FEC to replace treasurer Nancy Marks, a longtime accountant for GOP candidates in New York, with Thomas Datewiler, based in Wisconsin. Formerly an attorney for Tatewiler told The Post Her client did not sign or approve the documents and told the campaign she did not want to serve as treasurer.

On Thursday, the FEC requested more information about the controversial filing. “It has come to the attention of the Central Election Commission that you may have failed to include true, correct or complete treasurer information,” the comptroller wrote to Datwyler. Letter Requests additional information.

Datwyler’s attorney told The Post on Friday that he plans to tell the FEC that his client did not file and that it should be withdrawn.

Marx did not respond to requests for comment.

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Over the past two years, FEC investigators have repeatedly found problems with Santos’ records to the regulator, sending several letters to clarify or correct apparent problems, including accepting contributions beyond allowable limits, omitting required donor information and failing to fill out required forms. Report details of loans Santos claims he made to his campaign.

Late last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Nassau County District Attorney Anne D. The offices of Donnelly (R) and Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz (D) said they were investigating whether Santos broke any laws. their jurisdictions. Spokespeople for each office told The Post this week that they had no further updates.

In 2021, regulators alleged in federal court that Harbor City ran a Ponzi scheme that raised $17.1 million from more than 100 victims, the SEC said. Santos, who was not named in the lawsuit, worked at the company for more than a year and received his last payment in April 2021, the same month the SEC sought to freeze its assets, The Post previously reported. reported. Santos said he was not aware of any alleged fraud by Harbor City.

Christian Lopez, Who says Santos knocked him out At the 2020 dinner, he said SEC officials asked him to recall what Santos told him Friday, as well as documents and messages Santos sent him.

“They asked things like, ‘What did he talk about? What did he offer you? What names did he mention?'” Lopez said.

Attorney Tiffany Boghosian, who says she has known Santos since junior high school and attended the 2020 dinner, said she was also interviewed by SEC officials on Friday.

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“They wanted to know George’s involvement and the specifics of the pitch,” Boghossian said.

An SEC spokesman declined to comment. JP Maroney, the founder of Harbor City and a named defendant in the SEC action, has denied wrongdoing in court. Harbor City did not respond. Maroney obtained a stay in that case last fall after it was revealed that the same matters were the subject of an active criminal investigation.

Perry Stein contributed to this report.

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