George Santos stands with newly elected GOP members of Congress...

George Santos stands with newly elected GOP members of Congress during a news conference in Baldwin in November. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

This story was reported by Scott Eidler, Candice Ferrette, Paul LaRocco and Anastasia Valeeva. It was written by Eidler and LaRocco.

Nassau Republican Party committees reaped significant benefits from Rep. George Santos’ complicated campaign finance network for more than a year before disavowing him after investigations into his background and finances became public, Newsday has found.

Four political action committees tied to Santos and his family contributed nearly $185,000 to county GOP committees between late 2021 and last year’s election, state and federal records show, making the lawmaker one of the county party's largest contributors over that time.

Santos, 34, has ignored calls to resign for two weeks since The New York Times revealed that he fabricated his work, education and ethnic history. He defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in the Nov. 8 election.

In his first days in Washington, Santos has ignored reporters and other House members, including one who called him a "liar" in Spanish and Portuguese on the House floor.

Under a swirl of federal, county and state investigations, he has begun assembling a staff that includes a right-wing operative to run his House office. He was sworn in early Saturday along with other new members after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) won the speakership on his 15th try.

Santos’ congressional leadership PAC — meant to make contributions to other candidates for office — and one of his joint fundraising committees contributed more than $58,000 to Nassau Republicans’ previously dormant federal campaign account over two days in late September, campaign finance records show.

In September 2021, Rise NY, a state PAC where Santos’ sister Tiffany served as president, gave $62,500 to the party. Rise NY also gave $62,500 to the Hempstead Republican Committee on the same day and another $1,725 to the county committee in February 2022.

After inquiries from Newsday, Nassau GOP Chairman Joseph Cairo said Thursday that the party would return the Rise NY money, totaling $126,725.

“The money that he gave — we are going to return,” Cairo told Newsday. 

“George Santos is not welcome here," Cairo said. "When I invite our elected officials in, I will not invite him. If he shows up to a fundraiser, we will ask him to leave … He’s done with the Nassau County Republican Party.”

Cairo announced in December that the committee would not support Santos for reelection in 2024.

Contributions from top GOP donors to the numerous state and federal accounts associated with Santos show the extent to which the Nassau Republican Party played a role in financing Santos’ campaign.

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), whose district includes portions of the Third Congressional District, which Santos will represent, said “there should be some real concerns” over how any donor or recipient can be made right.

Martins declined to comment directly on the county GOP's involvement with Santos, but he told Newsday: “It's his [Santos'] responsibility, in the end, to be accountable for that.”

Martins, who ran unsuccessfully for the Third District seat in 2016, continued: “I think people should be very concerned about how he was funded, where that money came from. I think the investigations are just the beginning.”

Federal laws limited donors to $5,800 in total contributions to Santos' main candidate committee, $5,000 to his leadership PAC, and $10,000 to any federal committees run by the state or county parties.

Political and campaign finance experts said it’s legal for individuals to max out their contributions to various accounts as a way to maximize support for the candidate as well as the local political parties.

They noted that it’s often the case that party donors contribute to as many of the candidate's committees as they legally can in a bid to support the party’s infrastructure of candidates.

FEC officials on Thursday said in a letter to the Devolder Santos Nassau Victory Committee that three contributors appeared to have made contributions that exceeded limits by $76,000.

The letter requires Santos' PAC to explain the excess donations by Feb. 8.

“If any contribution you received exceeds the limits, you may have to refund the excessive amount," the FEC wrote to the PAC.

The FEC cites Matthew Bruderman, who is listed as contributing $25,000 to Santos’ campaign on Sept. 6 and another $1,000 the same day; Todd O’Connell, who is reported to have contributed $25,000 on Sept. 2; and Dr. Jeff Vacirca, who is listed as contributing $25,000, also on Sept. 2.

Bruderman, of Centre Island, is a financier and chairman of the Nassau Health Care Corp., the political board that runs Nassau University Medical Center, Nassau County's only public hospital.

O’Connell and Vacirca are leaders of Port Jefferson Station-based New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, one of Long Island’s largest oncology practices. O’Connell is president and Vacirca is chief executive.

“The joint committees are a convenient way of allowing all of the money to be raised at once, but under the different caps that each of these entities have,” said Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School and a campaign finance expert.

“Although the campaign finance laws have a lot of loopholes, they do impose real limits on the amount of money that can be given to the candidate, or the political parties that support a candidate, and at some point people do hit those limits," Briffault told Newsday. 

Several of the same people who were major donors to Santos' federal committees also gave money to the Rise NY PAC that his sister ran, the Newsday review of campaign finance records found.

Newsday reviewed contributions to, and expenditures by, the leadership PAC known as GADS — after Santos’ full name, George Anthony Devolder Santos — and the joint fundraising account named Devolder Santos Nassau Victory Committee, which was established in August as a "joint fundraising committee." Through such a committee, money could be distributed to Santos' main committee as well as Nassau Republicans' federal committee.

Robert Mangi, of Lloyd Harbor, was Rise NY’s single-largest contributor, giving $150,000 in 2021.

In 2022, he and his wife, Sandra Mangi, donated a total of $30,000 to the two federal Santos PACs and $6,500 to the Nassau Republicans' federal account.

The FEC also cited donations from the Mangis as "Apparent Excessive Contributions," in a letter on Nov. 17, 2022, and another dated April 4.

The federal agency asked the campaign to explain $5,800 total in contributions in March and August of 2022 from Sandra Mangi, and $3,900 from Robert Mangi in 2021.

Andrew Intrater, an asset manager with family and business ties to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire Russian oligarch, contributed $80,000 to Rise NY, $35,000 to three Santos federal accounts and $10,000 to the Nassau GOP’s federal account.

Other leading contributors to the Santos PACs often overlapped with the Nassau GOP’s most generous direct state and federal donors.

Bruderman gave $41,800 to the Santos PACs and $285,000 to the Nassau Republicans' state account. His wife, Kerri Beth Bruderman, gave $5,000 to Santos' leadership PAC, records show.

O’Connell and Vacirca gave $60,000 total to GADS PAC and the Devolder-Santos Victory Committee and $20,000 to the county Republican Party’s federal fund.

James Metzger, who runs a Garden City insurance brokerage and financial services firm and has worked with Bruderman, gave $17,900 to the three Santos federal committees and $10,000 to the Nassau Republicans' federal account.

None of the top donors to the Santos-allied PACs agreed to speak for this story. They either declined to comment, did not respond to calls and messages, or could not be reached for comment.

Santos, who could not be reached for this story, has admitted fabricating key parts of his biography, including his education and work experience. He also has yet to provide specific details about the source of his income and assets, which increased significantly as reported by disclosures between his failed 2020 run in the Third District and last year’s victory.

Asked about the federal money, Cairo said: “We never reached out to the rank-and-file Nassau County people to say, you know, come and support George Santos. We never did that. He did that on his own.”

“Being a Queens Republican, and coming from without our organization, he ran a different campaign than the traditional national Republican candidate runs," Cairo said.

“He solicited people who were his supporters,” Cairo said. “To be candid, my solicitation or my reaching out to these people was to help elect state senators and Assembly people this year.”

Cairo said he authorized the Devolder Santos Nassau Victory fund because “it was permissible under the law, and it would allow a Republican to have a better chance to win in a challenging Congressional district.”

Cairo said of his GOP donors who gave to Santos: “These are people who believe in the Republican Party, who believe in the principles of the party. And I have no doubt that they were supporting a Republican candidate for Congress who they believe had a good chance of winning, especially if their districts were redrawn.”

He continued: “The money that we received from his joint committee, and whatever other committees he has, we spent it. We did that in the true spirit of helping a Republican in his election process.”

GOP officials said the county party's federal committee spent most of what Santos gave for lawn signs and digital billboards, including more than $35,000 to GMG Printing in Shirley and $23,000 to ABW Hospitality.

Records show the Rise NY PAC run by Santos' sister sent the Nassau County Republican Committee $62,500 in September 2021.

The PAC paid a total of $21,465 in salary to Tiffany Santos, campaign finance records show.
Tiffany Santos, who has also gone by Tiffany Devolder, identified herself as president of Rise PAC on her FEC contribution form.

The Rise PAC spent a total of $314,492. Among the expenditures was $48,265, in 2021 and 2022, to Harry Brar for "wages" or "professional services," the records show.

In September, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office charged Brar with choking a 10-year-old boy in 2021. Brar could not be reached for comment. The Nassau District Attorney's Office said the case is still active.

In November 2021, Republicans saw big gains in countywide offices, and the party's county committee was key in helping Bruce Blakeman win the county executive’s race and getting Anne Donnelly elected district attorney.

Donnelly’s office is among those investigating Santos.

Asked whether the donation from Rise helped fund other county races, Cairo said the donation went into the committee’s “general fund” and said that by September 2021 the committee “had already funded those campaigns.”

Cairo recalled that Santos, after losing to then-Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Clove) in 2020, blamed the Nassau GOP for not doing enough to support him.

Weeks later, he met with Cairo and other GOP leaders to apologize, and expressed interest in a 2022 run in the district.

Cairo recalled telling Santos: “As far as a second chance, you need to earn that within the party.”

Looking back, Cairo said: “Did I have a warm, fuzzy feeling toward George Santos? Certainly not. Did I forgive him? Yes, I did.”

Last month, Blakeman told Newsday: "George Santos is not a Nassau Republican. He's a Queens Republican."

Blakeman noted the Third District was redrawn substantially between 2020 and 2022.

"And he ran for office when it was a very, very different district — that's when he initiated his campaign. So we kind of inherited him," Blakeman said.

David Primo, a campaign finance expert and professor of political science at the University of Rochester, told Newsday, "It’s very hard to completely dissociate yourself with a candidate you created a joint fundraising account with.”

Primo continued: “The best thing they can do is acknowledge they made a mistake and admit they were fooled just as many, many people were fooled.”

Nassau Republican Party committees reaped significant benefits from Rep. George Santos’ complicated campaign finance network for more than a year before disavowing him after investigations into his background and finances became public, Newsday has found.

Four political action committees tied to Santos and his family contributed nearly $185,000 to county GOP committees between late 2021 and last year’s election, state and federal records show, making the lawmaker one of the county party's largest contributors over that time.

Santos, 34, has ignored calls to resign for two weeks since The New York Times revealed that he fabricated his work, education and ethnic history. He defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in the Nov. 8 election.

In his first days in Washington, Santos has ignored reporters and other House members, including one who called him a "liar" in Spanish and Portuguese on the House floor.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Nassau Republican Party committees reaped nearly $185,000 from Rep.-elect George Santos’ complicated campaign finance network, Newsday found. 
  • Four political action committees tied to Santos and his sister made the donations between late 2021 and last year’s election, state and federal records show.
  • The embattled congressman-elect was one of the county party's largest contributors over that time.

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Under a swirl of federal, county and state investigations, he has begun assembling a staff that includes a right-wing operative to run his House office. He was sworn in early Saturday along with other new members after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) won the speakership on his 15th try.

Santos’ congressional leadership PAC — meant to make contributions to other candidates for office — and one of his joint fundraising committees contributed more than $58,000 to Nassau Republicans’ previously dormant federal campaign account over two days in late September, campaign finance records show.

In September 2021, Rise NY, a state PAC where Santos’ sister Tiffany served as president, gave $62,500 to the party. Rise NY also gave $62,500 to the Hempstead Republican Committee on the same day and another $1,725 to the county committee in February 2022.

GOP leader: We'll return the money

After inquiries from Newsday, Nassau GOP Chairman Joseph Cairo said Thursday that the party would return the Rise NY money, totaling $126,725.

“The money that he gave — we are going to return,” Cairo told Newsday. 

“George Santos is not welcome here," Cairo said. "When I invite our elected officials in, I will not invite him. If he shows up to a fundraiser, we will ask him to leave … He’s done with the Nassau County Republican Party.”

Cairo announced in December that the committee would not support Santos for reelection in 2024.

Contributions from top GOP donors to the numerous state and federal accounts associated with Santos show the extent to which the Nassau Republican Party played a role in financing Santos’ campaign.

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), whose district includes portions of the Third Congressional District, which Santos will represent, said “there should be some real concerns” over how any donor or recipient can be made right.

Martins declined to comment directly on the county GOP's involvement with Santos, but he told Newsday: “It's his [Santos'] responsibility, in the end, to be accountable for that.”

Martins, who ran unsuccessfully for the Third District seat in 2016, continued: “I think people should be very concerned about how he was funded, where that money came from. I think the investigations are just the beginning.”

Federal laws limited donors to $5,800 in total contributions to Santos' main candidate committee, $5,000 to his leadership PAC, and $10,000 to any federal committees run by the state or county parties.

Political and campaign finance experts said it’s legal for individuals to max out their contributions to various accounts as a way to maximize support for the candidate as well as the local political parties.

They noted that it’s often the case that party donors contribute to as many of the candidate's committees as they legally can in a bid to support the party’s infrastructure of candidates.

FEC officials on Thursday said in a letter to the Devolder Santos Nassau Victory Committee that three contributors appeared to have made contributions that exceeded limits by $76,000.

The letter requires Santos' PAC to explain the excess donations by Feb. 8.

Rep. George Santos is sworn in by Speaker of the...

Rep. George Santos is sworn in by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) along with other members of the 118th Congress in Washington early Saturday.

Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

“If any contribution you received exceeds the limits, you may have to refund the excessive amount," the FEC wrote to the PAC.

The FEC cites Matthew Bruderman, who is listed as contributing $25,000 to Santos’ campaign on Sept. 6 and another $1,000 the same day; Todd O’Connell, who is reported to have contributed $25,000 on Sept. 2; and Dr. Jeff Vacirca, who is listed as contributing $25,000, also on Sept. 2.

Bruderman, of Centre Island, is a financier and chairman of the Nassau Health Care Corp., the political board that runs Nassau University Medical Center, Nassau County's only public hospital.

O’Connell and Vacirca are leaders of Port Jefferson Station-based New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, one of Long Island’s largest oncology practices. O’Connell is president and Vacirca is chief executive.

“The joint committees are a convenient way of allowing all of the money to be raised at once, but under the different caps that each of these entities have,” said Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School and a campaign finance expert.

“Although the campaign finance laws have a lot of loopholes, they do impose real limits on the amount of money that can be given to the candidate, or the political parties that support a candidate, and at some point people do hit those limits," Briffault told Newsday. 

Donors gave to multiple committees

Several of the same people who were major donors to Santos' federal committees also gave money to the Rise NY PAC that his sister ran, the Newsday review of campaign finance records found.

Newsday reviewed contributions to, and expenditures by, the leadership PAC known as GADS — after Santos’ full name, George Anthony Devolder Santos — and the joint fundraising account named Devolder Santos Nassau Victory Committee, which was established in August as a "joint fundraising committee." Through such a committee, money could be distributed to Santos' main committee as well as Nassau Republicans' federal committee.

Robert Mangi, of Lloyd Harbor, was Rise NY’s single-largest contributor, giving $150,000 in 2021.

In 2022, he and his wife, Sandra Mangi, donated a total of $30,000 to the two federal Santos PACs and $6,500 to the Nassau Republicans' federal account.

The FEC also cited donations from the Mangis as "Apparent Excessive Contributions," in a letter on Nov. 17, 2022, and another dated April 4.

The federal agency asked the campaign to explain $5,800 total in contributions in March and August of 2022 from Sandra Mangi, and $3,900 from Robert Mangi in 2021.

Andrew Intrater, an asset manager with family and business ties to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire Russian oligarch, contributed $80,000 to Rise NY, $35,000 to three Santos federal accounts and $10,000 to the Nassau GOP’s federal account.

Other leading contributors to the Santos PACs often overlapped with the Nassau GOP’s most generous direct state and federal donors.

Bruderman gave $41,800 to the Santos PACs and $285,000 to the Nassau Republicans' state account. His wife, Kerri Beth Bruderman, gave $5,000 to Santos' leadership PAC, records show.

O’Connell and Vacirca gave $60,000 total to GADS PAC and the Devolder-Santos Victory Committee and $20,000 to the county Republican Party’s federal fund.

James Metzger, who runs a Garden City insurance brokerage and financial services firm and has worked with Bruderman, gave $17,900 to the three Santos federal committees and $10,000 to the Nassau Republicans' federal account.

None of the top donors to the Santos-allied PACs agreed to speak for this story. They either declined to comment, did not respond to calls and messages, or could not be reached for comment.

Santos, who could not be reached for this story, has admitted fabricating key parts of his biography, including his education and work experience. He also has yet to provide specific details about the source of his income and assets, which increased significantly as reported by disclosures between his failed 2020 run in the Third District and last year’s victory.

Asked about the federal money, Cairo said: “We never reached out to the rank-and-file Nassau County people to say, you know, come and support George Santos. We never did that. He did that on his own.”

“Being a Queens Republican, and coming from without our organization, he ran a different campaign than the traditional national Republican candidate runs," Cairo said.

“He solicited people who were his supporters,” Cairo said. “To be candid, my solicitation or my reaching out to these people was to help elect state senators and Assembly people this year.”

Cairo said he authorized the Devolder Santos Nassau Victory fund because “it was permissible under the law, and it would allow a Republican to have a better chance to win in a challenging Congressional district.”

Cairo said of his GOP donors who gave to Santos: “These are people who believe in the Republican Party, who believe in the principles of the party. And I have no doubt that they were supporting a Republican candidate for Congress who they believe had a good chance of winning, especially if their districts were redrawn.”

He continued: “The money that we received from his joint committee, and whatever other committees he has, we spent it. We did that in the true spirit of helping a Republican in his election process.”

GOP officials said the county party's federal committee spent most of what Santos gave for lawn signs and digital billboards, including more than $35,000 to GMG Printing in Shirley and $23,000 to ABW Hospitality.

Records show the Rise NY PAC run by Santos' sister sent the Nassau County Republican Committee $62,500 in September 2021.

The PAC paid a total of $21,465 in salary to Tiffany Santos, campaign finance records show.
Tiffany Santos, who has also gone by Tiffany Devolder, identified herself as president of Rise PAC on her FEC contribution form.

The Rise PAC spent a total of $314,492. Among the expenditures was $48,265, in 2021 and 2022, to Harry Brar for "wages" or "professional services," the records show.

In September, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office charged Brar with choking a 10-year-old boy in 2021. Brar could not be reached for comment. The Nassau District Attorney's Office said the case is still active.

In November 2021, Republicans saw big gains in countywide offices, and the party's county committee was key in helping Bruce Blakeman win the county executive’s race and getting Anne Donnelly elected district attorney.

Donnelly’s office is among those investigating Santos.

Asked whether the donation from Rise helped fund other county races, Cairo said the donation went into the committee’s “general fund” and said that by September 2021 the committee “had already funded those campaigns.”

Santos blames GOP for doing too little

Cairo recalled that Santos, after losing to then-Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Clove) in 2020, blamed the Nassau GOP for not doing enough to support him.

Weeks later, he met with Cairo and other GOP leaders to apologize, and expressed interest in a 2022 run in the district.

Cairo recalled telling Santos: “As far as a second chance, you need to earn that within the party.”

Looking back, Cairo said: “Did I have a warm, fuzzy feeling toward George Santos? Certainly not. Did I forgive him? Yes, I did.”

Last month, Blakeman told Newsday: "George Santos is not a Nassau Republican. He's a Queens Republican."

Blakeman noted the Third District was redrawn substantially between 2020 and 2022.

"And he ran for office when it was a very, very different district — that's when he initiated his campaign. So we kind of inherited him," Blakeman said.

David Primo, a campaign finance expert and professor of political science at the University of Rochester, told Newsday, "It’s very hard to completely dissociate yourself with a candidate you created a joint fundraising account with.”

Primo continued: “The best thing they can do is acknowledge they made a mistake and admit they were fooled just as many, many people were fooled.”

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