The FBI is investigating Rep. George Santos’, R-N.Y., role in an alleged GoFundMe scheme involving a Navy veteran who claimed that Santos stole thousands of dollars from an online fundraising campaign intended to cover lifesaving surgery for his service dog.
Richard Osthoff told NBC News that he had been in contact with the FBI and provided text messages dating back to his exchanges with Santos in 2016, when the New York Republican had raised about $3,000 for his dog Sapphire.
“I’m elated the big guys finally picked it up,” Osthoff told Politico. “I turned over all my text messages and I’m in the process of turning over everything related to the GoFundMe campaign.”
Osthoff’s allegations gained national attention after Patch.com first reported that the funds Santos helped raise on GoFundMe were never made available to him.
The alleged fundraising scheme is the latest scandal Santos is facing after making headlines for facing separate allegations related to fraud and lying. Despite receiving pushback to resign, the freshman Republican has refused to leave office but has stepped down from his assigned committees.
“I’m glad to get the ball rolling with the big-wigs,” Osthoff told Politico on Wednesday. “I was worried that what happened to me was too long ago to be prosecuted.”
Reps. Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman, both Democrats of New York, who requested that the House ethics panel investigate Santos’ campaign finances last month, cited the report to further criticize the congressman.
“There’s no one that poses a greater threat in Congress than Santos. It’s undeniable that he’s broken the law. We have to protect Congress from George Santos, who threatens it from within,” Torres said in an interview with Politico.
“Given that a serial liar like Santos is still walking the halls of the Capitol, it is imperative that the Justice Department move quickly to determine whether an indictment is appropriate,” Goldman told the outlet.
When Santos was asked by a reporter about FBI agents investigating him, he fumed that he hadn’t spoken to them and had “no clue” about what was going on.
He also claimed that he had never met Osthoff who had made the allegations against him.
“I have no recollection of meeting him,” Santos said.
In an interview broadcast earlier this week, the freshman Republican sat down with the far-right One America News Network discussing how the media has portrayed him.
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“I come from humble beginnings. I’ve always said that I grew up in abject poverty in Jackson Heights, in Queens, in New York City. People like me aren’t supposed to do big things in life,” Santos said after Caitlin Sinclair asked him about his background.
Santos said there is no situation where it’s acceptable for a lawmaker to lie.
“There’s no circumstance, especially if you’re legislating for the American people right now,” he added. “So what I might have done during the campaign does not reflect what is being done in the office.”
Sinclair replied that the American people can “pretty much forgive anything, but that starts with a sincere apology” and remorse, but “prevailing opinion is you have not yet shown that.”
Santos pushed back and said he made his “sincere apology multiple times.”
“I earlier stated that I thoroughly apologize for lying about my education and embellishing the resume. I’ve made that very, very clear,” he said. “I don’t know what more can be said other than admitting. Is there anything more humbling, humiliating than admitting that on national television?”
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