In this episode we're talking about who George Santos is and how he got here... here being both the United States and the House of Representatives. If you like our content, please become a patron if you'd like to support us directly. You'll get all of our episodes ad-free.
The only thing we know for sure about George is that he is in fact a child of Brazilian immigrants, the rest is a very moving target. We only know that because he has a pending criminal charge in Brazil, apparently he stole the checkbook of a deceased man his mother was caring for and went shopping on the dead man's account. 1
More interestingly, George is apparently quite friendly with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, via Viktor's cousin in the United States Andrew Intrater. Santos is the largest recipient of funds from Intrater / Vekselberg linked companies in the past election cycle and the only one to get individual donations from both Intrater and his wife. 2
Santos is also linked to an investment firm in Florida called Harbor City Capital which was shut down by the SEC for operating as a ponzi scheme, and directors of that company including Jayson Benoit and Devaughn Dames are now involved in other Republican fundraising and political organizations, such as WinRed and Red Strategies USA.
WinRed in particular has some explaining to do, as Santos and another campaign affiliated with his former Harbor City buddies (Tina Forte who ran against AOC in 2022 and lost by 44 points) are accused of fraudulently over-billing donor credit cards via the WinRed payment processing service. 3
WinRed's treasurer is a man named Benjamin Ottenhoff who came up in the Senate campaigns of Rick Scott, the senator from Florida who, unsurprisingly, was the CEO of a company which at the time pled guilty to the largest Medicare fraud in US history. Funny how Republicans pretend to care about how things cost too much but are either throwing money at scams or perpetrating them all the time, isn't it?
Predictably, an Ottenhoff firm was also paid quite a bit to "consult" on Kanye West's political campaign, too. 4
1. Grace Ashford and André Spigariol. Brazilian Authorities Will Revive Fraud Case Against George Santos. The New York Times. January 2023. ⇤
2. Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rosalind S. Helderman . New details link George Santos to cousin of sanctioned Russian oligarch. The Washington Post. January 2023. ⇤
3. Hunter Walker and Josh Kovensky. Campaigns Linked To Santos Left Donors Feeling Ripped Off After Questionable Credit Card Charges. Talking Points Memo. January 2023. ⇤
4. Roger Sollenberger and William Bredderman. Kanye West’s ‘Independent’ Campaign Was Secretly Run by GOP Elites. The Daily Beast. ⇤
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