Some federal insiders don’t buy embattled Rep.-elect George Santos’ excuse that dozens of strange $199.99 campaign expenses he filed were the result of a “database” error.
The newly-elected Long Island Republican has come under a hailstorm of criticism and probes by both the Nassau County district attorney and federal prosecutors after he came clean to The Post about fabricating key details of his personal and professional life.
More revelations came this week, including that Santos’ campaign committee recorded 37 expenditures between April 2021 and February 2022 — each totaling exactly $199.99. The figure is one cent below the minimum amount at which federal law requires receipts.
Rooms at the Hyatt Orlando Hotel and the W Hotel South Beach and office supply run to Staples and Target were all among the curious $199.99 expenses. There were also Ubers, airline flights, Amtrak tickets, parking at John F. Kennedy Airport, and meals at The Little Neck, Queens restaurant Il Bacco Ristorante.
The Santos camp blamed paperwork problems.
“This reporting issue is the result of a database error and amendments were filed with the FEC. We believe that accurate information has been provided to the FEC,” a rep for Santos’ campaign emailed The Post.
But the purchases and their strange prices remain publicly viewable on the Federal Election Commission website.
“I don’t believe it,” said Ann Ravel, former FEC chairwoman, of Santos’ explanation. “There are too many expenditures for the $199 that were filed.
“If they did provide an amending filing to the FEC to change it, and if the FEC agrees that it was a database error, the FEC would have already changed the website,” she said.
Christian Hillard, a rep for the FEC added that “any amended transactions and filings submitted by committees would be reflected in the data through the FEC website.”
Santos’ biggest New York donors are taking a wait-and-see approach to the ballooning scandal.
“It’s complicated. I am still sorting out my feelings,” said Josh Eisen, an entrepreneur who gave a maximum of $2,900 in contributions to both Santos’ primary campaign and his general election fund. “Considering the gravity of sitting in Congress, I surely hope that one of those many prosecutors will be able to inform the people about how we should feel before he is sworn in.”
John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of Gristedes supermarkets, suggested he cut a $2,900 check to Santos reluctantly. “My daughter had a fundraiser for him and I always support daughters,” he said.
Cats said the Santos situation made him “a little woozy,” but he is “taking the position of letting all the truth come out. Let the US attorney do his job, and let’s find out the truth.”
Santos also listed expenditures far north of $199, including more than $1,000 for apparel at Brooks Brothers. Another $713 went to “food and beverages” for an event at The Breakers, an ultra-luxe hotel in Palm Beach.
Santos also wined and dined his donors at some of New York and Washington D.C. trendiest spots including Il Mulino and Joe’s Stone Crab, dropping $660 and $710 respectively, FEC forms show.