When it comes to the inevitable downfall of House Republican George Santos, the tricky part is figuring out which of his endless lies and schemes actually constitute violations of the law, and which are merely repulsively awful. Lying to the public about every aspect of your personal background while running for Congress, for instance, isn’t necessarily a violation of criminal law (though it probably should be). When Santos is indicted and convicted, it’ll have to be for specific acts of clear cut criminal fraud, which often involves a money trail.
That’s why the various prosecutors who have announced or leaked that they’re criminally investigating Santos have each focused on some aspect of financial fraud. The DOJ and the Nassau County District Attorney are reputedly focused on the large amount of money that Santos may have acquired via Ponzi scheme before funneling it through his campaign to himself. This, if proven, would be a near-automatic criminal conviction at trial. Now it turns out the Feds have a new angle, and a fitting one.
Of all the awful stories that have surfaced about George Santos, one of the most appalling is that he allegedly raised a few thousand dollars to save a Navy veteran’s sick dog, only to pocket the money and let the dog die. So it’s fitting that, according to NBC News, the DOJ is now criminally investigating Santos over that fraudulent fundraiser. It’s a small amount of money compared to the three quarters of a million dollars in questionable money that Santos allegedly funneled through his campaign. But the phony dog fundraiser is so clear cut that it would make for a very easy felony conviction.
The DOJ has a long history of going after criminal targets by bringing a multitude of federal charges big and small. The idea is to make sure that even if the biggest charges don’t stick in court, the smaller charges will. It’s also an effective way to convince targets that they’re screwed one way or another and should just cut a plea deal. The fact that the DOJ is pursuing Santos on multiple levels is a pretty clear sign that it intends to indict and convict him. Even as we wait for that to happen, the increasingly radioactive Santos is becoming more and more of an albatross around House Republicans’ neck.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report