George Santos is facing questions about his involvement in the sale of a superyacht between two campaign donors shortly before the November election.
Santos, 34, arranged the September sale of the 141-foot Namaste, an Italian-designed luxury yacht that sleeps 12 in five cabins and features an infinity pool with a waterfall and underwater lighting.
The yacht was being sold by John Ruiz, a billionaire lawyer and businessman, and his wife Mayra, who was among Santos’ biggest donors. She contributed $10,800 to Santos’ joint fundraising committee in March 2022 and was one of the first to donate after he won the election.
The buyer was another big donor, Raymond Tantillo, a Long Island car dealer who gave Santos more than $17,000. Tantillo’s two ex-wives also generously supported Santos’s political endeavors.
The sale, first reported by The New York Timesit was legal, but Santos’ paper could have violated campaign finance laws if he used the proceeds for his campaign.
The 141-foot Namaste, now known as Neverland, was sold by Mayra Ruiz and purchased by Raymond Tantillo, both donors to the Santos campaign.
Santos is seen during Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on February 7.
Raymond Tantillo (left), a Long Island car dealer, purchased the yacht from Mayra Ruiz (right) and her husband John, a Miami attorney and businessman.
Campaign contribution limits could have been breached if the sale was designed to boost your campaign.
It could also have been illegal if Santos somehow tied his referral fee to past or future donations.
It is unclear how much money he made by bringing the two parties together, if at all he was paid for his services this time.
Santos previously explained that he made a living connecting wealthy people, a job he called ‘capital introduction’.
In December, Santos said traffic light that if a client wanted to sell an airplane or a ship, he would “put that probe” among his contacts.
He told the site that he had sealed a couple million-dollar deals.
“If you’re looking at a $20 million yacht, my reference rate can be anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000,” he said.
Namaste was priced at $20 million and changed hands in November 2022 for $18.75 million; it also changed its name and is now called Neverland.
Namaste is shown before its release. It was built by the Italian company Mangusta
John Ruiz’s lawyer, Christine Lugo, told The New York Times that he “doesn’t know who George Santos is and has never contributed to his campaigns and has never done any business with him.”
Tantillo’s attorney, Robert Curtis Gottlieb, said, “I have every reason to believe that Mr. Tantillo will not be charged for anything, including the purchase of a boat or campaign contributions.”
Santos’s team has not commented on his role.
The yacht sale is just the latest in a long line of bizarre stories about the New York congressman, who was found to have lied about his education, family life, career and contacts.
Santos filed documents Tuesday indicating his intention to run for re-election, even as he faces calls to resign amid ongoing criminal and ethics investigations into lies he told while running for office.
Filing with the Federal Election Commission does not necessarily mean Santos will run for a second term, but it allows his campaign committees to continue raising money, some of which could be used to pay future legal bills.
The money he raises could also be used to pay back more than $700,000 he claims to have loaned to his campaign.
The New York Republican admitted to lying about having Jewish ancestry, a Wall Street background, college degrees and a background as a star volleyball player.
But serious questions have also been raised about his finances, including the source of what he says was a fortune he quickly amassed despite recent financial troubles, including evictions and debts of thousands of dollars in back rent.
He has referred to the fabrications as harmless embellishments on his resume.
Santos, seen Tuesday, faces multiple questions about his lies
Santos’ fellow Republicans have turned against him. Anthony D’Esposito (center) is seen on March 7 flanked by two other New York congressmen, Nick Lalota (right) and Brandon Williams (left), introducing a bill that prevents members of Congress from taking advantage of media appearances and book deals if convicted. of a crime
Pressure for him to resign arose almost immediately after the New York Times discovered inconsistencies in his public record. Fellow New York Republicans have demanded his resignation, saying he has betrayed the voters and his own party with his lies.
In 2017, he was charged with criminal theft in Pennsylvania in connection with bad checks apparently used to buy puppies from dog breeders, according to a lawyer who said she helped the Republican with the case.
Those charges, however, were later dropped, according to the lawyer.
As a young man, he faced charges in Brazil, still unresolved, alleging that he used a fraudulent check to buy clothes.