Rep. George Santos was go-between in $19M mega-yacht deal for GOP donors: report
Rep. George Santos reportedly was the go-between in a $19 million mega-yacht deal between two Republican donors in the middle of his congressional campaign last year.
The controversial Long Island lawmaker brokered the sale of the palatial 141-foot vessel — complete with a waterfall — from a big bucks Miami GOP donor to a Long Island car dealer last fall, the New York Times reported.
Although there might not be anything illegal about the deal, it raises fresh questions about whether Santos used his campaign as a piggy bank to enrich himself.
Federal investigators are probing the deal along with about a dozen other leads into questionable deals handled by Santos and have sought to question the boat buyer, the paper says.
Mayra Ruiz, a prominent south Florida Republican donor, reportedly sold the yacht to Ray Tantilla, who owns several Long Island car dealerships, in the weeks leading up to Santos’ upset win in the 2022 midterms election, according to the Times.
It’s not known what commission Santos banked for brokering the deal or if there was any connection between the deal and donations to his campaign.
It could violate campaign finance laws if Santos tied the yacht deal to donations to his political campaign or future donations.
After his election, Santos was forced to admit he lied about much of his background, education and work experience.
His campaign finance disclosure forms were riddled with errors and possible falsehoods, including a questionable $700,000 loan he made to his campaign.
That loan and campaign spending on lavish trips to Florida and elsewhere has raised eyebrows because Santos has otherwise claimed to have little wealth and previously said he was making $55,000 a year as a call center worker as recently as 2020.
Aside from the possible criminal probes, Santos is facing a House ethics committee investigation.
He has defied calls to resign from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, although GOP leaders fear they could lose the swing seat if he quits and forces a special election.
Santos this week filed paperwork for a 2024 reelection run. His fellow freshman Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who won an upset victory in a neighboring Long Island district, fired back by vowing to help a primary opponent topple Santos.
Democrats are using Santos as a poster boy for their $45 million campaign to take back as many as six New York seats that Republicans swept in the midterms.