Rep. George Santos reportedly brokered a $19 million mega-yacht deal between two Republican donors in the midst of his campaign for Congress last year.
The controversial Long Island lawmaker brokered the sale of the palatial 141-foot vessel, complete with waterfall, from a big Miami Republican donor to a Long Island car dealer last fall, the New York Times reported.
While there may not be anything illegal in the deal, it raises new questions about whether Santos used his campaign as a piggy bank to enrich himself.
Federal investigators are looking into the deal along with a dozen other leads about questionable dealings handled by Santos and have tried to question the ship’s buyer, the newspaper says.
Mayra Ruiz, a major South Florida Republican donor, reportedly sold the yacht to Ray Tantilla, owner of several Long Island car dealerships, in the weeks before Santos’ upset victory in the 2022 midterm elections, according to the Times.
It is not known what commission Santos took for negotiating the deal or if there was any connection between the deal and donations to his campaign.
It could violate campaign finance laws if Santos links the yacht deal to donations to his political campaign or future donations.
After his election, Santos was forced to admit that he lied about much of his background, education, and work experience.
His campaign finance disclosure forms were riddled with errors and possible falsehoods, including a questionable $700,000 loan he made to his campaign.
That loan and campaign spending on lavish trips to Florida and elsewhere have drawn attention because Santos has claimed he has little wealth and previously said he was earning $55,000 a year as a call center worker in 2020.
In addition to possible criminal investigations, Santos faces an investigation by the House ethics committee.
He has defied calls to resign from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, though Republican leaders fear losing the swing seat if he resigns and forces a special election.
Santos filed his 2024 re-election papers this week. His fellow freshman Republican, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who won an upset victory in a neighboring Long Island district, responded by vowing to help a primary opponent oust to Santos.
Democrats are using Santos as a billboard in their $45 million campaign to win back as many as six New York seats that Republicans swept in the midterms.