George Santos Used Most of His Campaign Cash to Pay Himself Back

Representative George Santos, the New York Republican facing federal criminal charges, reported raising about $150,000 through his re-election campaign and an associated committee from April through June — a modest sum that he mostly used to pay back money he had lent to his past congressional bids.

Mr. Santos had previously reported giving his own campaign more than $700,000 in personal loans, money that has been the subject of intense scrutiny given his apparent sudden rise in wealth and a lack of transparency around his business deals. On May 30, his campaign repaid him $85,000, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

Still, Mr. Santos’s fund-raising figures, the first since he officially began his re-election bid, were strikingly weak for a candidate in a swing district expected to face a primary challenge. They underscored the steep political path in front of him as both Democrats and leaders of his own party try to remove him next year from his seat representing parts of Long Island and Queens.

One of the Democratic candidates for his seat, Zak Malamed, announced that he had taken in $417,000 in just the first six weeks after entering the race, nearly three times Mr. Santos’s total. Kellen Curry, a Republican primary challenger, said he raised more than $200,000 in the same period. Other candidates who have entered the race had yet to announce their totals ahead of a Saturday deadline.

Mr. Santos appeared to draw little financial support from his constituents. Just four of his scores of donors said they lived inside his district, with the bulk of them giving addresses in California, and others in Texas, Minnesota and New Jersey.

His totals were dwarfed by those raised by other frontline Republicans in New York, who are gearing up for some of the most closely contested races in the country next year.

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Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican who narrowly flipped a Hudson Valley seat last year covering an area that President Biden won by double digits, announced he had raised more than $900,000 during the three-month period. The figure made him one of the most successful freshman fund-raisers in the country, and left his campaign with $1.5 million in cash, he said.

Other first-term Republicans in New York and New Jersey swing districts — including Representatives Marcus Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams and Tom Kean Jr. — had not yet reported their totals. Neither had Representative Pat Ryan, a Hudson Valley Democrat whom Republicans hope to unseat.

Stockpiling cash could prove unusually important for Republican incumbents this year if New York is forced to redraw its congressional districts. A midlevel appeals court on Thursday ordered a redraw that could make a handful of seats virtually unwinnable for Republican incumbents. The case will ultimately be decided later this year by New York’s top court.

Mr. Santos declared his intention to run for re-election in April, even as local Republican officials and party committees said they would not support him. The next month, he was indicted on 13 felony counts, including wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.

He has pleaded not guilty, but the case further reduced his support from House Republican leadership. Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California has said Mr. Santos should not run, telling Fox News last month “we’re going to keep that seat with another Republican.”

Mr. Santos’s campaign reported receiving $133,078.85 in the second quarter of 2023. An affiliated committee, Devolder Santos Victory Committee, said it received $16,600. The fund-raising totals were an improvement over what Mr. Santos took in during the first quarter of the year, when his campaign brought in just $5,300 and spent thousands more than that refunding donor contributions.

The new infusion left Mr. Santos with $55,275.72 in cash on hand. The campaign reported $530,000 in unpaid loans on Friday, though a $100,000 loan reported last quarter was not listed on this most recent filing.

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