This is a remarkable double play, though, managing to lie on the paperwork attempting to semi-correct an earlier lie. Except Santos says he wasn’t the one who amended the earlier reports, anyway, telling CNN’s Manu Raju, “Sir—let's make it very clear: I don't amend anything, I don't touch any of my FEC stuff, right?”
Santos’ now-former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, has some questions to answer as the person who filed both the original forms claiming that Santos had lent the campaign his own money and the amended ones saying the money was not from his personal funds. While a lot of things surrounding Santos are amateur hour, or perhaps grifters’ hour, Marks is a longtime Republican operative who has been a consultant or treasurer for dozens of campaigns, Mother Jones previously reported. In 2022, at the same time as she was Santos’ treasurer, she was filling that role for Republican gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin. Her political consulting business, Campaigns Unlimited, took in $100,000 from the Santos campaign, but Santos was one of more than 30 clients, including numerous Republican House campaigns.
Marks’ involvement—and she was Santos’ treasurer in his losing 2020 run as well as in 2022—makes plausible deniability a lot more difficult for Republicans. She was well positioned to know that sketchy stuff was going on on the Santos campaign, but she didn’t only put her name on his fraudulent FEC filings rather than walking away and letting other Republicans know that Santos was trouble. Marks was far more involved than that.
It looks a lot like Marks used family members to get around campaign contribution limits to funnel more money to Santos. Mother Jones reported that in addition to Marks herself giving to his campaign, her two children, ages 19 and 22, contributed the maximum $5,800 to Santos, while giving nothing to any other candidates. It sure sounds like a classic case of straw donors.
Marks also became business partners with Santos and some of his former coworkers at the alleged Ponzi scheme Harbor City Capital, in another questionable arrangement that bears further investigation: “Santos and four former colleagues from a Florida company that went belly up because of an alleged Ponzi scheme each had their own companies in the Sunshine State. Those Florida enterprises and Marks’ consulting company then launched a political consulting firm that immediately hooked up with a QAnon-ish Trumpist as she initiated a long-shot campaign to bounce Ocasio-Cortez.”
So it’s amusing that the Santos campaign claimed a treasurer who wants nothing to do with Santos. But the backstory, with all of its missing information and hints of significant wrongdoing, is the big story here. Santos’ main company, the Devolder Organization, which he claims paid him enough to lend his campaign $700,000, has no evidence of major clients and an address at a mailing-processing store. The fact that someone like Marks, with a real business and deep Republican connections, would go into business with Santos is just as interesting.
Amid all the personal lies about his own biography and qualifications, amid the horrifying but financially limited cons like not turning over $3,000 from a GoFundMe to save a service dog’s life, there are signs pointing to the possibility that Santos was a con man on a much larger scale, and that establishment Republicans were involved or at a minimum knew something was going on and didn’t bother to blow the whistle. And that becomes even more interesting the longer House Republican leaders like Kevin McCarthy refuse to abandon Santos.
A clearer picture of George Santos is emerging, and it looks like a picture of a longtime con artist
McCarthy gives Santos his committee assignments just before the worst story yet emerges
We've got more developments in the 2024 Arizona Senate race as Congressman Ruben Gallego officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. On this week’s episode of The Downballot, David Beard and guest host Joe Sudbay discuss his chances in the race and how Dem-turned-Indy Kyrsten Sinema's decision on whether to run for re-election will impact Gallego's support from national Democrats. Then we discuss the upcoming Chicago mayor's race and the recent flurry of polls that have shown incumbent mayor Lori Lightfoot anywhere from leading the pack to missing out on a runoff entirely.
Lastly, we touch on Virginia Senator Tim Kaine's decision to run for re-election and the importance of Virginia's 2023 state elections. We are also joined by Victoria McGroary, the Executive Director of BOLD PAC, which serves as the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She breaks down how Democrats prevented losses among Hispanic voters in 2022 despite pundit predictions otherwise. We also discuss the ongoing problem of disinformation in Spanish language media and how BOLD PAC has fought back against it. And we heard about the memorable OR-6 Democratic primary from last year, where BOLD PAC's endorsed candidate, Andrea Salinas, managed to overcome a 12-1 spending disparity to defeat a crypto-backed candidate.
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