Rep. George Santos’ earliest political backers faced financial misconduct investigations

His first election kickoff in 2020 was co-hosted by a repeat fraudster.

Some of Rep. George Santos’ earliest financial backers have faced legal scrutiny for fraud and financial misconduct, a Grid review has found.

At least four important donors to the New York Republican’s 2020 congressional campaign — which flopped but led to his successful 2022 campaign — know the business end of an investigation.

New York financier Andrew Intrater, a cousin of and money manager to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, whose interactions with Trumpworld figures came under the microscope of then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, gave $5,600 to Santos’ 2020 campaign. Mueller’s investigation did not accuse Intrater of any wrongdoing.

Well-connected GOPers helped Santos

Santos’ attorney, Joseph Murray, declined to answer questions from Grid about the source of the funds Santos contributed to his 2020 congressional campaign, and the nature of Santos’ relationship and interaction with Sabba and Watson.

“Unfortunately, in light of the FEC complaints that have reportedly been filed, and the various prosecutors publicly announcing that they are opening investigations (although not a single one has contacted me), it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any of these issues at this time,” Murray told Grid in a text message.

Allegations abound

Watson, a real estate executive in Colorado who had been the Republican nominee for Colorado state treasurer in 2018, was another early donor.

Probes are ongoing

The barrage of revelations about Santos’ personal and political background has triggered calls to resign from both Republicans and Democrats, and requests for investigations by elected officials and advocacy groups.

Answers to the many questions about Santos are likely to come more quickly from the Justice Department than the FEC — but they still may be many months away, said Saurav Ghosh, CLC’s director for federal campaign finance reform.

“I think right now we’re kind of in a ‘Let’s see where all the dust settles’” phase, Ghosh said. “I think, hopefully, within the next year or so we’ll get some answers about where this money actually came from.”

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