NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Rep. George Santos’ campaign committee told federal regulators Wednesday that it had hired a new treasurer amid lingering questions about the source of his wealth and irregularities in the committee's financial reports.
The only problem? The man Santos supposedly hired said he actually turned the job down.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the committee made an error listing a new treasurer on Federal Election Commission paperwork — or if it was another lie by a congressman who has been caught fabricating many elements of his life story.
The man who declined the job, Thomas Datwyler, said through a lawyer that there appeared to be some sort of miscommunication.
“On Monday we informed the Santos campaign that Mr. Datwyler would not be serving as treasurer," Datwyler’s lawyer, Derek Ross, said in a statement. “It appears there’s a disconnect between that conversation and the filings (Wednesday) which we did not authorize."
Santos' House office referred questions Thursday to his campaign, Devolder Santos for Congress, whose lawyer, Joe Murray, said: “It would be inappropriate to respond due to open investigations."
A message seeking comment was left for campaign’s former treasurer, Nancy Marks.
Under federal regulations, a campaign committee can’t raise or spend money unless it has a treasurer. The treasurer collects all contributions — and only the treasurer, or a person designated by the treasurer, can approve campaign expenses.
Devolder Santos for Congress filed a new statement of organization on Wednesday listing Datwyler as treasurer and custodian of records, replacing Marks, who had held both positions since Santos first ran for Congress in 2020. The form included what it said was his electronic signature, along with his email and mailing addresses.
Five other political fundraising committees linked to Santos filed similar paperwork with the FEC Wednesday listing Datwyler as the new treasurer.
Santos’ campaign submitted its new statement of organization a day after it filed new campaign finance reports Tuesday that elevated confusion over the source of a personal fortune he claimed to have used to finance his campaign.
The campaign provided the FEC with amended versions of reports for the last two years, including forms that gave contradictory accounts of whether some of the $705,000 he lent his campaign since 2021 came out of his own pocket.
Hours before the new statement of organization listing Datwyler was filed, Santos again refused to answer questions about the source of his wealth and placed responsibility for amending his campaign finance reports on campaign staff.
“Let’s make it very clear. I don’t amend anything. I don’t touch any of my FEC stuff, so don’t be disingenuous and report that I did,” Santos said. “Every campaign hires fiduciaries, so I’m not aware of that answer, but we will have an answer for the press regarding the amendments from yesterday.”
Datwyler, a veteran political moneyman, is treasurer for dozens of House and Senate campaigns, including that of Rep. Nick LaLota in Santos’ neighboring district. Marks, a longtime Long Island political operative, was treasurer for LaLota’s predecessor, former Rep. Lee Zeldin, and was closely associated with Santos' rise to office.
She had been treasurer for several committees supporting Santos — and she and her family gave maximum contributions to his campaign. A company associated with Marks' Long Island address is listed on paperwork among the co-owners of a company he and others formed in Florida in 2021 after the collapse of Harbor City Capital, an investment firm where Santos worked that the SEC alleges was a Ponzi scheme.
Marks' bookkeeping has come under scrutiny from the FEC and campaign finance experts. The commission has repeatedly flagged problems with Santos’ campaign finance reports, sending more than two dozen letters requesting additional information about contributions, donors and his personal loans.
The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit watchdog organization, filed an FEC complaint against Santos and Marks this month detailing problems it found in his campaign’s reports, including an outsized number of expenses just below the $200 threshold at which the campaign would be required to retain a receipt, invoice or canceled check.
Santos’s campaign reported 37 expenses costing exactly $199.99 — including seven from an Italian restaurant in Queens, five for Uber rides and four from Delta Air Lines. The Campaign Legal Center highlighted several improbable transactions, including a $199.99 stay at a posh Miami hotel where the least expensive room that week usually goes for more than $700.
The organization’s director of federal reform, Saurav Ghosh, said it's rare for a campaign treasurer to be implicated for reporting violations, but “when a campaign has this level of egregious reporting failures, it is ultimately the treasurer who’s responsible.”
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Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press