The political action committee End Citizens United called on Tuesday for 12 Republican lawmakers to divest themselves of donations they received from scandal-plagued New York Republican Rep. George Santos. At least five of those recipients have already called on Santos to resign from Congress.
Since his election in November to an open House seat, Santos has been exposed as a serial liar who fabricated nearly his entire campaign biography. He has also been accused by good government groups of violating campaign finance law.
Santos has thus far rejected bipartisan calls for his immediate resignation, telling “War Room” guest host Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz in a Jan. 12 interview: “I’ve lived an honest life. I’ve never been accused of any sort of bad doing.”
On Jan. 13, HuffPost reported that Santos operated a leadership PAC called GADS PAC (an acronym of George Anthony Devolder-Santos, his full name) and distributed several contributions to House incumbents and candidates, some of whom are now his colleagues.
End Citizens United, which works to elect Democratic candidates who support reform of democracy and money in politics and promotes pro-democracy efforts in general, wrote to a dozen current House Republicans who received donations from GADS PAC or from Santos during the 2022 campaign urging them to donate the money to charity.
“You are among a handful of Republicans who have taken tainted campaign contributions from
George Santos,” said the group’s president, Tiffany Muller. “Given the long list of lies, likely criminality, and blatant disregard for ethics, transparency, or the truth, we are calling on you to donate George Santos’ tainted money to charity. Keeping the money or returning it to Santos would be an endorsement of his deception and corruption.”
The letter was sent to Reps. Cory Mills (FL), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL), Mary Miller (IL), Nick LaLota (NY), Mike Lawler (NY), Marc Molinaro (NY), Elise Stefanik (NY), Claudia Tenney (NY), Brandon Williams (NY), Max Miller (OH), Beth Van Duyne (TX), and Harriet Hageman (WY).
Each received at least $1,000 in campaign donations from Santos personally, his campaign committee, or his GADS PAC (in Stefanik’s case, through her Elise Victory Fund joint fundraising committee).
The American Independent Foundation reached out to each of the recipients to ask if they would be donating the contributions.
In an emailed statement, Max Miller responded: “I contributed to the campaigns of dozens of Republican nominees for the U.S. House, including Santos’s campaign. Had I known then what we’ve learned in the last few weeks, I would never have supported Santos, and I doubt his voters would have either.” His office did not comment on a follow-up question about what he would do with the $5,800 he received from Santos or the $5,000 he took from GADS PAC.
The others did not immediately respond.
End Citizens United spokesperson Arik Wolk told the American Independent Foundation on Tuesday:
“George Santos is a liar, a fraud, and likely a criminal. Taking his money is tantamount to endorsing his deceit and corruption. That’s why we are calling on these Republican members of Congress who took Santos’ money to donate it to charity. Some of them have even called for Santos to resign, but they’ve been silent on the money they took from him. They should put their money where their mouth is.”