Why would anyone donate to Rep. George Santos’ re-election campaign? Santos was indicted in May by the federal government on 13 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and lying on federal disclosure forms. He pleaded not guilty.
This week, House Democrats put Republicans on the spot by introducing a resolution to censor Santos for his many lies about his past. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthygiven his slim and often restless majority, rejected efforts to evict Santos, but told Fox News last month he wanted to defend the seat “with another Republican.” In January, Republican leaders in Nassau County demanded that Santos resign from the House for his lies, calling him a “stain” on his district.
But Santos persists. In April he announced his candidacy for re-election. And despite looming federal criminal charges, he still managed to raise $179,000 from April to June for his campaign, The New York Times reported, citing documents filed with the Federal Election Commission last Friday.
That’s not much for a candidate running in a lean Democratic-ranked swing New York neighborhood. But Santos used the money wisely for his own benefit.
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The Times wrote:
Mr. Santos used $85,000 of the money on May 30 to pay himself off. He previously said he gave his own campaign more than $700,000 in personal loans.
The Times noted that only three of Santos’ re-election campaign donors said they live in the congressman’s district, which includes parts of Long Island and the New York borough of Queens.
Guo and Bannon share something else in common: both face criminal fraud charges alleging they defrauded their followers. Indeed, in August 2020, federal agents aarrested Bannon on Guo’s luxury yacht after being charged with defrauding donors who gave money to a foundation he started to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. Trump pardoned Bannon in the final hours of his term, but he was indicted for similar charges by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in September 2022.
Guo fled China in 2014 to avoid fraud charges there. In the United States, he has won a following in Chinese communities by establishing himself as an outspoken enemy of the Chinese communist government. But he broke the law in the United States. Mother Jones wrote:
In March, the Ministry of Justice accused Guo with deploying a series of fraudulent business schemes to defraud his fans of over $1 billion. Federal prosecutors alleged that Guo used investor funds to pay for mansions and luxury cars, $36,000 mattresses and a $27 million yacht. He was charged with wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. Guo claims that the authorities are pursuing him at the request of the Chinese government to silence him.
Guo was held without bail since his arrest on March 15 because he is considered a flight risk.
The Daily Beast, citing a report by the Hark Herald Press, an independent media outlet that monitors Chinese political operations, said nearly all of Santos’ new campaign donors were linked to a group formed by Guo and Bannon called the New Federal State of China (NFSC). The group advocates regime change in China and has declared itself an anti-Communist Chinese government in exile. Guo has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting Trump’s efforts to cancel the 2020 presidential election, according to Mother Jones.
Mother Jones reported that of about 50 total contributors on Santos’ campaign finance report, about three dozen of them, spread across the United States, had Chinese or Asian names and each had donated $3,300 to Santos, the maximum amount allowed by federal law for a primary election campaign. Those donations accounted for about $130,000 of Santos’ reported campaign donations.
Those donors included a part-time cashier from Georgia, students from Pennsylvania and California, a masseuse from Texas and a member of a stage crew from New York, according to the Times. The three media were only able to reach a handful of these donors. Xuehong Zhang, a masseuse from Plano, Texas who identified as a Chinese immigrant, told The Times that she donated to Santos because “I see him wanting to bring down the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). I just want to bring down the CCP. She said she heard about Santos on Gettr, though she didn’t mention Guo by name.
Gettr is a conservative social media platform that former employees have told The Washington Post is controlled by Guo. Its chief executive and public face is Jason Miller, former senior adviser to Donald Trump.
Asked about those donations, Santos told The Daily Beast he assumed “fundraising” had taken place without providing details. It doesn’t explain how tens of thousands of dollars poured into his campaign all at once from donors scattered across the United States. Mother Jones said Guo supporters at one point distributed a list to help raise campaign donations for Santos.
So what did Santos do to endear himself to Guo supporters? Campaign donations began pouring in around mid-May after Santos developed a sudden obsession with the plight of Guo, who also goes by the name of Miles Guo. It started just days before the DOJ charged Santos on May 10.
On May 5, Santos showed up at Guo’s mansion in Mahwah, New Jersey, which the Justice Department alleged Guo bought with funds from scams to his followers, Mother Jones reported. Santos gave an interview to Guo’s aides that aired on Gettr in which he pledged to ensure that “Miles Guo is free and given the opportunity to stand trial.”
On May 6, Santos tweeted a brief video statement: “Miles Guo is a CCP political prisoner inside the United States. Let it sink in. Release Miles Guo.
Santos has also sponsored a total of 11 tickets targeting the CCP, the Daily Beast reported. Santos also gave a speech in the House in which he said, “The charges against Miles Guo are simply part of an organizing campaign of political persecution against him by the CCP,” Mother Jones reported.
Mother Jones wrote:
He then introduced a bill he called the “Guo Law,” which is based on the unsubstantiated idea that China is corruptly influencing US courts to advance its interests. The bill would require federal judges and top federal prosecutors to submit financial statements meant to assess whether they received payments from foreign governments. The bill is going nowhere.
And in June, Santos joined Bannon to attend the third anniversary celebration of China’s new federal state in New York.
Santos even went so far as to brazenly blame his own indictment on his support for Guo. In a fundraising pitch on the day of his indictment, Santos tweeted, “I asked about #MilesGuo and DOJ indicts me 5 days later!” He added that he needed financial support “to keep fighting for freedom”.