FEC Flags Contribution Issues in George Santos’ Filings
WASHINGTON — The Federal Election Commission last week flagged a number of issues with reported contributions made to embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who has come under scrutiny for sweeping lies he’s told about his personal life and career.
In a letter dated Jan 4., a senior campaign finance and reviewing analyst, Sarah Vivian, asked Santos’ campaign for “more information essential to full public disclosure of your federal election campaign finances.”
“Failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action,” Vivian wrote.
The FEC letter informed Santos that the employer name and occupation entries listed for three of his listed donors — “Best Efforts/Best Efforts,” “NYCBS/MD” and “NYCBS/Self Employed” — are “not acceptable.”
“You must provide the missing information, or if you are unable to do so, you must demonstrate that ‘best efforts’ have been used to obtain the information,” Vivian wrote. “To establish ‘best efforts,’ you must provide the commission with a detailed description of your procedures for requesting the information.”
She goes on to explain to Santos’ treasurer Nancy Marks, that “establishing ‘best efforts’ is a three-fold process.”
“First, your original solicitation must include a clear and conspicuous request for the contributor information and must inform the contributor of the requirements of federal law for the reporting of such information,” she wrote.
“Second, if the information is not provided, you must make one follow-up, stand alone effort to obtain this information, regardless of whether the contribution(s) was solicited or not,” Vivian continued. “This effort must occur no later than 30 days after receipt of the contribution and may be in the form of a written request or an oral request documented in writing.
“The requests must:
- clearly ask for the missing information, without soliciting a contribution,
- inform the contributor of the requirements of federal law for the reporting of such information, and
- if the request is written, include a pre-addressed postcard or return envelope.
“Third, if you receive contributor information after the contribution(s) has been reported, you should either a) file with your next regularly scheduled report, an amended memo Schedule A listing all the contributions for which additional information was received; or b) file on or before your next regularly scheduled reporting date, amendments to the report(s) originally disclosing the contribution(s),” she wrote.
In addition, the FEC letter says that Santos’ latest fundraising report “discloses one or more contributions which appear to exceed” federal contribution limits, and it identifies three donors who each contributed at least $25,000 to his campaign. Candidates are allowed to receive a maximum of $5,800 from individuals during an election cycle.
“Please provide clarifying information regarding this possible discrepancy,” Vivian wrote. “If any apparently excessive contribution in question was incompletely or incorrectly disclosed, you must amend your original report with the clarifying information.
“If the current Statement of Organization (FEC Form 1) fails to list all participants of the Joint Fundraising Committee, you must amend the Statement of Organization in order to show all participants,” she said.
“If any contribution you received exceeds the limits, you may have to refund the excessive amount. … Any request from a donor for a refund must be honored,” she added.
Santos’ campaign has until Feb. 8 to respond to the letter.