NEW YORK — A fired former aide of controversial Rep. George Santos now says he paid off another aide in a failed effort to get a permanent job in the congressman’s office.
Derek Myers, 31, who also claims Santos sexually harassed him, told the House ethics subcommittee this week that he sent at least $1,050 to Vish Burra, a senior aide to Santos, in hopes of securing a permanent gig.
“Burra was a powerful person,” Myers said Wednesday. “I wanted him to advocate on my behalf.”
Myers said Burra didn’t ask him for the cash, but once requested that he “send more pizza,” which Myers took to be a reference to the pizza emoji they’d used previously in Venmo subject lines to disguise the true nature of the payments.
Myers has not claimed that Santos knew about the payments or was involved in the pay-to-play scheme. Burra, who is often seen alongside Santos during public appearances, declined to comment.
House investigators questioned Myers about the payments, documented in receipts and text messages, as part of a probe into workplace sexual harassment allegations Myers made after being dismissed from Santos’ staff in February.
Myers received a job offer to be a legislative assistant to Santos in late January, but lasted less than a week in the position.
At the time, Santos told Myers he was concerned by the findings of a background check which showed Myers had been charged with wiretapping in Ohio after publishing a recording of a trial.
But Myers claims he was ousted after he spurned Santos’ sexual advances, accusing the congressman of running his hand along his inner leg and touching his groin while they were alone in the office.
Santos has denied the allegation, describing it as “comical.” A published report last month said the ethics committee has dismissed the harassment allegations although it has not said so publicly.
Santos was also indicted on a string of federal criminal charges mostly tied to murky campaign finance disclosures.
The political neophyte, who won a Democratic-leaning seat in the midterms, admits lying about most of his life story.
But he refuses to step down and vows to seek reelection in 2024. That could be a boon to Democrats who are making him the poster boy of a campaign to roll back GOP gains in New York and retake the House of Representatives.