"I would expect federal indictments": George Santos' top donors don't appear to actually exist

"Somehow, George Santos's campaign finance scandal just got a lot worse," watchdog group says

By Areeba Shah

Staff Writer

Published January 30, 2023 12:51PM (EST)

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) leaves a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) leaves a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

More than a dozen donors who contributed significant amounts of money to George Santos' 2020 congressional campaign do not appear to exist, an investigation by Mother Jones found.

Santos' campaign reported that Victoria and Jonathan Regor had each contributed $2,800 to his first bid for a House seat, but after searching through various databases, Mother Jones found that no one in the United States with such names exist. 

The apparent donors listed their address as 45 New Mexico Street in Jackson Township, New Jersey, but even that was questionable since the numbers on New Mexico Street in Jackson end in the 20s. 

Another donor by the name of Stephen Berger, who was included in Santos' 2020 campaign finance reports, contributed $2,500 – the maximum amount.

He was listed as a retiree living on Brandt Road in Brawley, California, but a spokesperson for William Brandt told Mother Jones that Brandt has lived at that address for at least 20 years and "neither he or his wife have made any donations to George Santos. He does not know Stephen Berger nor has Stephen Berger ever lived at…Brandt Road."

The contributions are among more than a dozen major donations to the 2020 Santos campaign for which the name or the address of the donor cannot be confirmed.

Separately, the documents identify that a $2,800 campaign donation was attributed to a friend of Santos, but the person denied making the donation to Mother Jones.

These contributions account for more than $30,000 of the $338,000 the Santos campaign raised from individual donors in 2020, according to Mother Jones. 

Under federal campaign finance law, it is illegal to donate money using a false name or the name of someone else. 

The newly-elected GOP lawmaker, who has faced repeated calls to resign from Congress for fabricating his resume and lying about his background, received more criticism after the Mother Jones report was released.  

"Somehow, George Santos's campaign finance scandal just got a lot worse," the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said on Twitter, questioning whether Santos' donors "even exist."

"If the Santos' campaign fabricated donors, I would expect federal indictments soon," Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias tweeted. "That would be a serious crime and an easy one to prove and prosecute."

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"This is a lot of crime," tweeted attorney Max Kennerly, "just piles and piles of crime, all blessed by House Republicans."

Santos has remained under scrutiny after a New York Times investigation revealed that the congressman is not the man he portrayed himself to be in front of voters. From lying about his heritage and falsely claiming to be Jewish to telling stories about his mother being in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Santos keeps making headlines for fabricating his background.

Even as Republicans have called for Santos to resign, the Republican congressman has defended himself and denied most of the allegations being made against him. 

"From interviewing clowns to creating fake 'posts' the media continues to down spiral as their attempt to smear me fails," he said on Twitter. "I am getting the job I signed up for done, while you all spiral out of control."

By Areeba Shah

Areeba Shah is a staff writer at Salon covering news and politics. Previously, she was a research associate at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a reporting fellow for the Pulitzer Center, where she covered how COVID-19 impacted migrant farmworkers in the Midwest.

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