Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) leaves the U.S. Capitol last Thursday. 

Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) leaves the U.S. Capitol last Thursday.  Credit: Getty Images/Win McNamee

Campaign committees tied to Rep. George Santos paid tens of thousands of dollars to newly formed companies with opaque histories and meager track records of working for other candidates, a Newsday review of state and federal filings shows.

Election law and campaign finance experts said the lack of public information about such companies and their leaders — and the lack of detail describing the work they performed — could raise questions about whether Santos paid inflated rates for unnecessary services performed by friends and allies, or possibly diverted campaign donations for his own use.

In 2021 and 2022, the embattled Republican’s campaign account, his leadership fund and a state political action committee run by his sister disbursed a total of about $86,000 to at least five companies Newsday identified as having been formed within months or even days of payment by committees associated with Santos.

The companies lacked websites and social media presence, filed incorporation documents without listing their principals and had little track record of working for other political campaigns, Newsday found.

For instance, Connors Consulting Group Corp., using a Williston Park home as its address, received a total of $10,000 from the Santos campaign last fall for “field representative” services, FEC records show.

It received its first check six weeks after incorporating, state business filings show.

Three members of a family at that address had contributed to Santos or the state Rise NY PAC that his sister, Tiffany Devolder Santos, ran, according to federal and state campaign finance documents.

New York state elections board records show another company, The One57 Group LLC, received a $5,000 fundraising "commission" from Rise NY in February 2021 — four days after the company had formed.

The company later received a total of nearly $48,000 more from Rise and George Santos' main federal committee, according to FEC and state records.

“The concern would be to what extent or effect he’s using [the campaign] to take money from donors,” said Brett Kappel, a Washington D.C.-based campaign finance lawyer who has represented Democrats and Republicans.

“Is he taking donations and trying to funnel them to cronies?” Kappel asked.

Paul S. Ryan, a veteran campaign finance attorney who has worked for nonprofit watchdog groups such as the Campaign Legal Center and Common Cause, said: "Recently formed business entities with very little public footprint, no history of campaign activity — you don't know who's running them, what they're actually doing."

Santos' campaign and personal financial dealings are under scrutiny by local, state and federal officials as revelations of falsehoods that he disseminated about his educational, professional and religious background continue to surface.

Last week, a Campaign Legal Center complaint filed with the FEC alleged Santos acted as a straw donor for others through large personal loans he made to his campaign, and reported numerous expenses of just under $200, the threshold that requires disclosure of the date, amount and purpose of the expense.

In November, Santos, 34, defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in the race in the 3rd Congressional District, which covers parts of Nassau County and eastern Queens.

Santos has ignored a growing number of calls to resign by the Nassau Republican Committee, which backed his candidacy, and members of the House Republican Caucus.

Queens GOP chairman Tony Nunziato and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have declined to call for Santos' resignation, saying investigations should be allowed to proceed.

Naysa Woomer, Santos' communications director, didn't respond to a request for comment for this story.

Santos' personal attorney, Joe Murray of Queens, told Newsday in an email that in light of the criminal probes, "it would be inappropriate to comment about any of this."

Campaign finance experts interviewed by Newsday identified several possible areas of concern about payments by Santos-related committees to companies with limited or nonexistent campaign track records.

“The concern when one sees vendors being paid who do not normally work in the campaign space is that of sham payments that are not really paying for services (or not paying for them at fair market prices)," Rick Hasen, a UCLA law professor who studies election law, wrote in an email to Newsday.

"It’s especially a red flag for entities that did not exist before and have no track record in any kind of business,” Hasen said.

Paul Herrnson, a University of Connecticut political science professor who focuses on issues such as money in politics, said the federal campaign finance system is “really built around the notion of disclosure."

Payments by committees associated with Santos to companies about which there is little available public information, he said, "raise red flags about the integrity of his campaign."

Herrnson continued: “In my opinion, further investigation is warranted to learn whether laws were broken.”

Addressing Santos' campaign spending with firms with minimal political track records, Ryan said Santos may not be "illegally pocketing the funds," but could be "allowing his friends to be enriched off of his campaign — friends who might be unqualified to actually do political campaign work."

Newsday examined thousands of expenditure reports filed with the FEC and the New York State Board of Elections in an effort to identify vendors who lacked track records in working with political candidates and committees.

More than a dozen fit that description.

But the five examined in this story also were incorporated only recently — between February 2021 and August 2022.

Further, their public presence on websites, social media and in other available records was scant.

These companies each received a total of between $1,500 and $53,000 from Santos-tied political committees between February 2021 and November 2022, the federal and state records show.

Santos began running for Congress in early 2021, shortly after his loss in 2020 to former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).

Santos’ primary congressional campaign committee paid a total of $10,000 in September and October 2022 to Connors Consulting Group Corp. for “field representative” services, according to the FEC.

The corporation was formed with New York State on Aug. 15, 2022. The Williston Park address on the incorporation document is the same as the one listed on Santos’ expenditure reports.

A search of federal and state campaign finance records show no other expenditures to Connors Consulting by political candidates or campaigns.

Incorporation papers listed no principals — only the name of a paid "incorporator" who filed the papers on behalf of Connors Consulting.

Campaign finance records show the same address for three people who contributed to Santos committees in 2021: Kevin Connors, who gave a total of $870 to Tiffany Santos' Rise NY PAC in mid-2021; and Tom Connors and Ann Marie Connors, who gave $350 and $700 respectively to George Santos' principal campaign committee on the same day in June 2021.

All three are named on the website of Kelly & Connors, a Hicksville company that organizes candy bar and snack fundraisers, as company executives.

Tom Connors is listed in business records as president of the Ink Stitch Club, an apparel embroidery business that operates from the Hicksville location and had incorporated with the Williston Park address. 

Ink Stitch received nearly $8,000 from Rise NY and Santos' congressional campaign to produce hats and T-shirts, according to FEC and state filings.

Ink Stitch also was paid $732 by the campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, and $714 from the GOP assembly campaign of Jake Blumencranz (R-Oyster Bay).

At Ink Stitch and Kelly & Connors offices in Hicksville Friday, a man and a woman said they had no information about the company known as Connors Consulting. 

A woman told Newsday, "we made T-shirts, and he paid."

A man, who later answered a phone number tied to the businesses and would only identify himself as a spokesman, told Newsday that there was no improper connection between the companies and Santos' campaign. "People donate to PACs all the time to help GOP candidates," he said.

Ryan, the elections lawyer who has testified before Congress and the FEC in support of stronger disclosure laws, said campaign expenditures to entities tied to campaign donors were "unusual" but permissible as long as "the Santos committee was paying fair market value for goods and/or services rendered to the campaign."

Noting the description of the Connors Consulting payment as only "field representative," Ryan said Santos contributors have no way of knowing if their money was spent wisely.

"That type of donor knowledge is impossible when the disclosure is as limited and as vague as what you're finding."

The Rise NY state PAC run by Tiffany Santos paid $6,000 to “Red Stone Strategies” of Merritt Island, Fla., in early 2022, according to state Board of Elections records. The company filed for incorporation on Nov. 1, 2021, according to Florida state business records.

The payments from the Rise NY PAC were for “professional services,” according to campaign finance reports.

The company's address matches that of Devolder Organization LLC, a Santos-owned company, according to papers filed with the state of Florida to renew its lapsed incorporation in December 2022. 

The FEC and state elections records show Red Stone Strategies' only other campaign clients in 2021 and 2022 were: Stefano Forte, an unsuccessful Republican New York State Senate candidate from Queens who paid the firm a total of about $15,000 in 2022; Vibhuti Jha, an unsuccessful GOP candidate in Assembly District 16 who paid Red Stone $500 in August; and Robert Cornicelli, an unsuccessful primary candidate last year against Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport). Cornicelli paid the company $1,160 for “professional service.” 

In 2021, Rise NY also reported that it paid an unrelated company, “Redstone Strategy Group,” of Boulder, Colo., $8,000 for “professional services," state records show.

The company describes itself on its website as helping philanthropists, nonprofits and governments make investments targeting “social problems.”

Nathan Huttner, managing director of Redstone, told Newsday by email: “These errors in political finance reporting have recently been brought to our attention. Redstone has never provided services to or received payment from Rise PAC. We have no knowledge of why incorrect information was reported listing Redstone’s business and address.”

Huttner continued: "We have reached out to the FEC and the NY Board of Elections and will be contacting the responsible parties to have the record corrected. We have no information about how this occurred, though would note that we are, unfortunately, the first Google hit when you search for 'Redstone Strategies.'

Santos’ congressional leadership PAC — dubbed “GADS” for George Anthony Devolder Santos, the candidate's full name — paid Patriot Consultants Corp. $7,500 last October to serve as a “fundraising event coordinator,” according to FEC filings.

In the filing, Patriot Consultants was listed as having a P.O. box in Ridge.

The Long Island Loud Majority, a conservative group whose members protested restrictions and mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have since branched out into school board and GOP primary election endorsements, also listed that P.O. box when it incorporated as a limited liability corporation.

It is separately owed a $15,000 "bonus" directly from the Santos campaign, according to a postelection FEC report of the campaign's debts, which doesn't describe the nature of the bonus. 

Shawn Farash, a Loud Majority co-founder, incorporated Patriot Consultants Corp. in July, state records show.

Reached by telephone, Farash said he “wasn’t prepared” to answer questions about Patriot Consultants Corp. and its work for Santos' leadership PAC. He directed a reporter to send questions in an email to a Loud Majority address, which was not answered.

Members of Congress and other political leaders often establish leadership PACs to support candidates for federal and nonfederal offices, but the GADS PAC filings don't indicate who benefited from the fundraiser Patriot was described as coordinating.

FEC and state records show Patriot Consultants' only other political work was for Michelle Bond, a cryptocurrency trade association leader who lost last year's Republican primary in the 1st Congressional District to Nick LaLota, who was elected in November. 

Bond's campaign made two payments totaling $150,000 to Patriot Consultants in July and August 2022. One was for "IT services" and the other "operations: general consulting."

Santos’ congressional campaign made $1,500 in payments between August and November 2022 to Sugarwood Consulting Inc., FEC filings show.

Sugarwood lists an apartment in Hicksville as its address, and its purpose as “political strategy consulting.”

The company incorporated in February 2022 using the same address, according to state business records. It did not list a principal. There is no website for the company.

A man who answered the door Friday at the Hicksville address told Newsday Sugarwood is a security company for "celebrity" and "high-net" customers.

The man, who called himself a retired police officer but declined to identify himself, said Sugarwood provided security for the Santos campaign on two occasions.

Besides the Santos campaign, the company's only other payee listed in federal or state campaign finance records is the “1776 Liberty PAC.”

The PAC paid Sugarwood $300 for “fundraising consulting” in November 2022, FEC records show.

The 1776 Liberty PAC incorporated on July 14, according to state records.

Over the course of the remaining campaign it spent $10,133 at the Garden City Hotel and $11,190 at Messina Marketing and Catering in East Norwich for fundraising events, records show.

Santos committees also spent thousands of dollars at the Garden City Hotel and his joint fundraising committee with the Nassau County GOP paid $4,835 last fall to an LLC with the same address as the catering company.

Representatives of 1776 Liberty PAC did not respond to a request for comment.

Santos’ primary congressional campaign committee paid "The One57 Group LLC" about $43,000 between May 2021 and January 2022, FEC filings show.

The payments were described as a “fundraising commission” in FEC filings.

Also, the Rise NY PAC made two payments to the company totaling $9,965 in February and March 2021, state campaign filings show.

The first payment was made on Feb. 19, 2021, four days after The One57 Group incorporated, Florida business records show.

Only one other entity has made payments to The One57 Group: Queens Republican Tina Forte, the Republican challenger to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose campaign paid $500.

Forte did not respond to a request for comment, nor did her campaign treasurer, Thomas Datwyler.

State records show the campaign of Suffolk County Legis. Manuel Esteban (R-East Northport) paid an "In the One 57 Group" $25 in 2021.

Sam Miele, 26, who is listed in Florida business records as manager of One57, declined to comment.

Santos' 2020 congressional campaign paid Miele nearly $50,000 for work as a fundraiser, federal campaign filings show.

FEC records show Miele also was paid in 2019 and 2020 by Josh Eisen, who ran unsuccessfully on the ECL Party line in the 17th Congressional District in 2020.

Sharon Fairley, a professor from practice at the University of Chicago Law School, said the fact that some contractors never worked for other political campaigns wasn't cause for concern in and of itself.

More investigation is needed to determine if any of the activity rose to the level of impropriety, Fairley told Newsday.

"The key thing is: Who are these people getting paid, and are they really doing work for the campaign, or is this a way of funneling money to the candidate's friends or themselves," said Fairley, a former federal prosecutor and former first deputy inspector general for the City of Chicago.

"There may be innocent explanations for all this," Fairley said.

Ryan said Santos' campaign finance practices are opaque, at this point.

"The result is donors and the public don't have a very good sense of what Santos spent his money on,” Ryan told Newsday.

“Did he pocket the money? Who knows? Enrich his friends and family, including some who may not even have been qualified to do the work that they were purportedly doing? Who knows?" Ryan asked.

"And the not knowing is a public policy problem," Ryan said.

With Anastasia Valeeva


 

Campaign committees tied to Rep. George Santos paid tens of thousands of dollars to newly formed companies with opaque histories and meager track records of working for other candidates, a Newsday review of state and federal filings shows.

Election law and campaign finance experts said the lack of public information about such companies and their leaders — and the lack of detail describing the work they performed — could raise questions about whether Santos paid inflated rates for unnecessary services performed by friends and allies, or possibly diverted campaign donations for his own use.

In 2021 and 2022, the embattled Republican’s campaign account, his leadership fund and a state political action committee run by his sister disbursed a total of about $86,000 to at least five companies Newsday identified as having been formed within months or even days of payment by committees associated with Santos.

The companies lacked websites and social media presence, filed incorporation documents without listing their principals and had little track record of working for other political campaigns, Newsday found.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Rep. George Santos’ political committees paid tens of thousands of dollars to companies with opaque histories and meager records of working for other candidates, records show.
  • Experts said the lack of public information about such companies and their leaders could raise questions about whether Santos paid for unnecessary services performed by friends and allies.
  • In 2021 and 2022, campaign committees with ties to Santos disbursed a total of about $86,000 to at least five companies Newsday identified as having been formed within months or days of payment.

For instance, Connors Consulting Group Corp., using a Williston Park home as its address, received a total of $10,000 from the Santos campaign last fall for “field representative” services, FEC records show.

It received its first check six weeks after incorporating, state business filings show.

Three members of a family at that address had contributed to Santos or the state Rise NY PAC that his sister, Tiffany Devolder Santos, ran, according to federal and state campaign finance documents.

New York state elections board records show another company, The One57 Group LLC, received a $5,000 fundraising "commission" from Rise NY in February 2021 — four days after the company had formed.

The company later received a total of nearly $48,000 more from Rise and George Santos' main federal committee, according to FEC and state records.

George Santos on the campaign trail in Glen Cove on...

George Santos on the campaign trail in Glen Cove on Nov. 5, just before the election.

Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

“The concern would be to what extent or effect he’s using [the campaign] to take money from donors,” said Brett Kappel, a Washington D.C.-based campaign finance lawyer who has represented Democrats and Republicans.

“Is he taking donations and trying to funnel them to cronies?” Kappel asked.

Paul S. Ryan, a veteran campaign finance attorney who has worked for nonprofit watchdog groups such as the Campaign Legal Center and Common Cause, said: "Recently formed business entities with very little public footprint, no history of campaign activity — you don't know who's running them, what they're actually doing."

Santos' campaign and personal financial dealings are under scrutiny by local, state and federal officials as revelations of falsehoods that he disseminated about his educational, professional and religious background continue to surface.

Last week, a Campaign Legal Center complaint filed with the FEC alleged Santos acted as a straw donor for others through large personal loans he made to his campaign, and reported numerous expenses of just under $200, the threshold that requires disclosure of the date, amount and purpose of the expense.

In November, Santos, 34, defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in the race in the 3rd Congressional District, which covers parts of Nassau County and eastern Queens.

Santos has ignored a growing number of calls to resign by the Nassau Republican Committee, which backed his candidacy, and members of the House Republican Caucus.

Queens GOP chairman Tony Nunziato and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have declined to call for Santos' resignation, saying investigations should be allowed to proceed.

Naysa Woomer, Santos' communications director, didn't respond to a request for comment for this story.

Santos' personal attorney, Joe Murray of Queens, told Newsday in an email that in light of the criminal probes, "it would be inappropriate to comment about any of this."

Experts raise concerns about Santos spending

Campaign finance experts interviewed by Newsday identified several possible areas of concern about payments by Santos-related committees to companies with limited or nonexistent campaign track records.

“The concern when one sees vendors being paid who do not normally work in the campaign space is that of sham payments that are not really paying for services (or not paying for them at fair market prices)," Rick Hasen, a UCLA law professor who studies election law, wrote in an email to Newsday.

"It’s especially a red flag for entities that did not exist before and have no track record in any kind of business,” Hasen said.

Paul Herrnson, a University of Connecticut political science professor who focuses on issues such as money in politics, said the federal campaign finance system is “really built around the notion of disclosure."

Payments by committees associated with Santos to companies about which there is little available public information, he said, "raise red flags about the integrity of his campaign."

Herrnson continued: “In my opinion, further investigation is warranted to learn whether laws were broken.”

Addressing Santos' campaign spending with firms with minimal political track records, Ryan said Santos may not be "illegally pocketing the funds," but could be "allowing his friends to be enriched off of his campaign — friends who might be unqualified to actually do political campaign work."

Newsday examined thousands of expenditure reports filed with the FEC and the New York State Board of Elections in an effort to identify vendors who lacked track records in working with political candidates and committees.

More than a dozen fit that description.

But the five examined in this story also were incorporated only recently — between February 2021 and August 2022.

Further, their public presence on websites, social media and in other available records was scant.

These companies each received a total of between $1,500 and $53,000 from Santos-tied political committees between February 2021 and November 2022, the federal and state records show.

Santos began running for Congress in early 2021, shortly after his loss in 2020 to former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).

Connors Consulting Group Corp.

Santos’ primary congressional campaign committee paid a total of $10,000 in September and October 2022 to Connors Consulting Group Corp. for “field representative” services, according to the FEC.

The corporation was formed with New York State on Aug. 15, 2022. The Williston Park address on the incorporation document is the same as the one listed on Santos’ expenditure reports.

A search of federal and state campaign finance records show no other expenditures to Connors Consulting by political candidates or campaigns.

Incorporation papers listed no principals — only the name of a paid "incorporator" who filed the papers on behalf of Connors Consulting.

Santos campaign signs at headquarters in Oyster Bay on Sept....

Santos campaign signs at headquarters in Oyster Bay on Sept. 1.

Credit: Bloomberg/Jackie Molloy

Campaign finance records show the same address for three people who contributed to Santos committees in 2021: Kevin Connors, who gave a total of $870 to Tiffany Santos' Rise NY PAC in mid-2021; and Tom Connors and Ann Marie Connors, who gave $350 and $700 respectively to George Santos' principal campaign committee on the same day in June 2021.

All three are named on the website of Kelly & Connors, a Hicksville company that organizes candy bar and snack fundraisers, as company executives.

Tom Connors is listed in business records as president of the Ink Stitch Club, an apparel embroidery business that operates from the Hicksville location and had incorporated with the Williston Park address. 

Ink Stitch received nearly $8,000 from Rise NY and Santos' congressional campaign to produce hats and T-shirts, according to FEC and state filings.

Ink Stitch also was paid $732 by the campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, and $714 from the GOP assembly campaign of Jake Blumencranz (R-Oyster Bay).

At Ink Stitch and Kelly & Connors offices in Hicksville Friday, a man and a woman said they had no information about the company known as Connors Consulting. 

A woman told Newsday, "we made T-shirts, and he paid."

A man, who later answered a phone number tied to the businesses and would only identify himself as a spokesman, told Newsday that there was no improper connection between the companies and Santos' campaign. "People donate to PACs all the time to help GOP candidates," he said.

Ryan, the elections lawyer who has testified before Congress and the FEC in support of stronger disclosure laws, said campaign expenditures to entities tied to campaign donors were "unusual" but permissible as long as "the Santos committee was paying fair market value for goods and/or services rendered to the campaign."

Noting the description of the Connors Consulting payment as only "field representative," Ryan said Santos contributors have no way of knowing if their money was spent wisely.

"That type of donor knowledge is impossible when the disclosure is as limited and as vague as what you're finding."

Red Stone Strategies

The Rise NY state PAC run by Tiffany Santos paid $6,000 to “Red Stone Strategies” of Merritt Island, Fla., in early 2022, according to state Board of Elections records. The company filed for incorporation on Nov. 1, 2021, according to Florida state business records.

The payments from the Rise NY PAC were for “professional services,” according to campaign finance reports.

The company's address matches that of Devolder Organization LLC, a Santos-owned company, according to papers filed with the state of Florida to renew its lapsed incorporation in December 2022. 

The FEC and state elections records show Red Stone Strategies' only other campaign clients in 2021 and 2022 were: Stefano Forte, an unsuccessful Republican New York State Senate candidate from Queens who paid the firm a total of about $15,000 in 2022; Vibhuti Jha, an unsuccessful GOP candidate in Assembly District 16 who paid Red Stone $500 in August; and Robert Cornicelli, an unsuccessful primary candidate last year against Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport). Cornicelli paid the company $1,160 for “professional service.” 

In 2021, Rise NY also reported that it paid an unrelated company, “Redstone Strategy Group,” of Boulder, Colo., $8,000 for “professional services," state records show.

The company describes itself on its website as helping philanthropists, nonprofits and governments make investments targeting “social problems.”

Nathan Huttner, managing director of Redstone, told Newsday by email: “These errors in political finance reporting have recently been brought to our attention. Redstone has never provided services to or received payment from Rise PAC. We have no knowledge of why incorrect information was reported listing Redstone’s business and address.”

Huttner continued: "We have reached out to the FEC and the NY Board of Elections and will be contacting the responsible parties to have the record corrected. We have no information about how this occurred, though would note that we are, unfortunately, the first Google hit when you search for 'Redstone Strategies.'

Patriot Consultants Corp.

Santos’ congressional leadership PAC — dubbed “GADS” for George Anthony Devolder Santos, the candidate's full name — paid Patriot Consultants Corp. $7,500 last October to serve as a “fundraising event coordinator,” according to FEC filings.

In the filing, Patriot Consultants was listed as having a P.O. box in Ridge.

The Long Island Loud Majority, a conservative group whose members protested restrictions and mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have since branched out into school board and GOP primary election endorsements, also listed that P.O. box when it incorporated as a limited liability corporation.

It is separately owed a $15,000 "bonus" directly from the Santos campaign, according to a postelection FEC report of the campaign's debts, which doesn't describe the nature of the bonus. 

Shawn Farash, a Loud Majority co-founder, incorporated Patriot Consultants Corp. in July, state records show.

Reached by telephone, Farash said he “wasn’t prepared” to answer questions about Patriot Consultants Corp. and its work for Santos' leadership PAC. He directed a reporter to send questions in an email to a Loud Majority address, which was not answered.

Members of Congress and other political leaders often establish leadership PACs to support candidates for federal and nonfederal offices, but the GADS PAC filings don't indicate who benefited from the fundraiser Patriot was described as coordinating.

FEC and state records show Patriot Consultants' only other political work was for Michelle Bond, a cryptocurrency trade association leader who lost last year's Republican primary in the 1st Congressional District to Nick LaLota, who was elected in November. 

Bond's campaign made two payments totaling $150,000 to Patriot Consultants in July and August 2022. One was for "IT services" and the other "operations: general consulting."

Sugarwood Consulting Inc.

Santos’ congressional campaign made $1,500 in payments between August and November 2022 to Sugarwood Consulting Inc., FEC filings show.

Sugarwood lists an apartment in Hicksville as its address, and its purpose as “political strategy consulting.”

The company incorporated in February 2022 using the same address, according to state business records. It did not list a principal. There is no website for the company.

A man who answered the door Friday at the Hicksville address told Newsday Sugarwood is a security company for "celebrity" and "high-net" customers.

The man, who called himself a retired police officer but declined to identify himself, said Sugarwood provided security for the Santos campaign on two occasions.

Besides the Santos campaign, the company's only other payee listed in federal or state campaign finance records is the “1776 Liberty PAC.”

The PAC paid Sugarwood $300 for “fundraising consulting” in November 2022, FEC records show.

The 1776 Liberty PAC incorporated on July 14, according to state records.

Over the course of the remaining campaign it spent $10,133 at the Garden City Hotel and $11,190 at Messina Marketing and Catering in East Norwich for fundraising events, records show.

Santos committees also spent thousands of dollars at the Garden City Hotel and his joint fundraising committee with the Nassau County GOP paid $4,835 last fall to an LLC with the same address as the catering company.

Representatives of 1776 Liberty PAC did not respond to a request for comment.

The One57 Group LLC

Santos’ primary congressional campaign committee paid "The One57 Group LLC" about $43,000 between May 2021 and January 2022, FEC filings show.

The payments were described as a “fundraising commission” in FEC filings.

Also, the Rise NY PAC made two payments to the company totaling $9,965 in February and March 2021, state campaign filings show.

The first payment was made on Feb. 19, 2021, four days after The One57 Group incorporated, Florida business records show.

George Santos speaks on Election Night at Il Bacco Ristorante...

George Santos speaks on Election Night at Il Bacco Ristorante in Little Neck, Queens.

Credit: Howard Simmons

Only one other entity has made payments to The One57 Group: Queens Republican Tina Forte, the Republican challenger to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose campaign paid $500.

Forte did not respond to a request for comment, nor did her campaign treasurer, Thomas Datwyler.

State records show the campaign of Suffolk County Legis. Manuel Esteban (R-East Northport) paid an "In the One 57 Group" $25 in 2021.

Sam Miele, 26, who is listed in Florida business records as manager of One57, declined to comment.

Santos' 2020 congressional campaign paid Miele nearly $50,000 for work as a fundraiser, federal campaign filings show.

FEC records show Miele also was paid in 2019 and 2020 by Josh Eisen, who ran unsuccessfully on the ECL Party line in the 17th Congressional District in 2020.

'Innocent explanations?'

Sharon Fairley, a professor from practice at the University of Chicago Law School, said the fact that some contractors never worked for other political campaigns wasn't cause for concern in and of itself.

More investigation is needed to determine if any of the activity rose to the level of impropriety, Fairley told Newsday.

"The key thing is: Who are these people getting paid, and are they really doing work for the campaign, or is this a way of funneling money to the candidate's friends or themselves," said Fairley, a former federal prosecutor and former first deputy inspector general for the City of Chicago.

"There may be innocent explanations for all this," Fairley said.

Ryan said Santos' campaign finance practices are opaque, at this point.

"The result is donors and the public don't have a very good sense of what Santos spent his money on,” Ryan told Newsday.

“Did he pocket the money? Who knows? Enrich his friends and family, including some who may not even have been qualified to do the work that they were purportedly doing? Who knows?" Ryan asked.

"And the not knowing is a public policy problem," Ryan said.

With Anastasia Valeeva


 

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