U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) watches proceedings in the House...

U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) watches proceedings in the House chamber during the third day of elections for speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol. Credit: Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker

WASHINGTON — A former aide to Trump political strategist Steve Bannon is set to join the congressional staff of incoming Rep. George Santos as the embattled politician continues to ignore calls to resign and instead has started to assemble a team aligned with the former president.

Santos (R-Queens/Nassau) arrived at his congressional office on Thursday morning joined by Vish Burra, a former aide to a number of right-flank figures including former GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla). Once again, Santos' swearing-in was delayed, along with other members', when the House failed to elect a speaker for a third day. It will reconvene Friday. 

Burra, speaking to Newsday briefly in a hallway of the Longworth House Office Building, said he planned on joining Santos’ office next Monday as an operations director.

Burra — whose full name is Viswanag Burra — is executive secretary of the New York Young Republicans Club, which last month hosted Santos at a gala in Manhattan featuring several far-right American and European political figures including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and members of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party founded by a former Nazi SS officer.

Burra, 31, hails from Staten Island and previously worked as a producer on Bannon’s podcast "War Room," which was booted from YouTube in 2021 after the video platform said the talk show aired “misleading content that alleges widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.”

Burra also served as a campaign spokesman for Paladino’s failed bid last year for an upstate congressional seat.

Paladino, a Buffalo businessman who also lost his 2010 bid against former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has previously come under fire for a series of inflammatory remarks including praising Adolf Hitler in a radio interview and comparing former first lady Michelle Obama to an animal.

Burra, shortly after entering Santos’ office, tweeted: “It’s nice to be back on Capitol Hill. I’m gonna enjoy this.” Attached to his missive was an image of the Marvel comic book villain Thanos.

The addition of a Gaetz-aligned staffer came as Gaetz and a faction of conservatives sought to foil Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become the next speaker of the House. The GOP majority leader on Thursday was still struggling to get the necessary votes to secure the speakership.

Santos, emerging from his office Thursday afternoon before the House reconvened, said he continued to support McCarthy. He ignored all other questions posed by reporters on the roughly four-minute walk to the House chamber.

Santos, who has admitted fabricating major portions of his biography and is now the subject of county, state and federal probes, continued to face calls to resign. Protesters gathered outside of his Douglaston, Queens, district office demanding he step down.

Santos chief of staff Charles Lovett did not respond to questions by Newsday about the protest and complaints that constituents can’t reach his office.

Lovett, who served as Santos’ campaign manager, also served as an Ohio field organizer for the Trump Victory Committee, according to his LinkedIn profile. The committee was a joint fundraising venture between President Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Santos and other recently elected House members were still waiting to be sworn in on Thursday as the speaker vote dragged into a third day. House rules dictate that members cannot take the oath of office until a speaker is elected.

Santos faced renewed scrutiny over his financial state after the online outlet The Daily Beast published an article Thursday morning indicating Santos’ sister, who he has been living with in Elmhurst, is in an eviction proceeding.

Tiffany Lee Devolder Santos is in an eviction proceeding in Queens housing court for failing to pay nearly $40,000 in apartment rent, late fees and other penalties for being in arrears dating back to at least March 2020, according to court records obtained by Newsday.

She owed nearly $60,000 until July 2022, the records show, when a one-time payment was made of $30,000 — government funds for rental assistance — but she didn't make any payments after and apparently continued to live there. The lease was terminated in May 2022, and she and potentially another occupant were "squatters."

Her eviction has been long staved off, using a mix of programs for COVID-19 hardship and Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which paid the nearly $30,000.

The case — which is due in court on Feb. 17 — also accuses the sister, referred to in the proceeding as the "Respondent," of “conduct that is disturbing the entire building.”

“Respondent and her guests/occupants are smoking in the common areas, leaving cigarette butts, cups and other trash in the hallways and staircase. The cigarette smoke enters neighboring units and spreads throughout the entire building’s common areas, to much distaste of other tenants.”

The apartment is in Elmhurst on Queens Boulevard near the Long Island Expressway.

On Feb. 8, 2021, Santos took to Twitter to criticize the generosity of housing laws — not from a tenant perspective but a landlord's, which he claims to be.

"Will we landlords ever be able to take back possession of our property? My family and I nearing a 1 year anniversary of not receiving rent on 13 properties!!! The state is collecting their tax, yet we get 0 help from the government. We worked hard to acquire these assets …," he wrote in one tweet.

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