The Daily Beast reported that Redstone Strategies LLC of Florida, a mysterious and unregistered fund, has a connection to George Santos and raised big money for him.
One of George Santos’ big donors got a call encouraging him to think about giving another large gift a month before he was elected to Congress.
The request was made by a supporter of Mr. Santos who identified himself as a Republican. He was speaking on behalf of RedStone Strategies, which was identified as an “independent expenditure” organisation in an email to the donor. According to the email, which The New York Times obtained, the group had already raised $800,000 and was attempting to raise another $700,000.
The contributor came through, sending $25,000 to RedStone Strategies’ Wells Fargo Bank account on October 21 a few days later.
Mr. Santos was elected to Congress three months later, but it’s not clear where the donor’s money went. RedStone Strategies was not registered as a political organisation, according to the Federal Election Commission, and there don’t seem to be any records of its contributors, contributions, or spending.
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When asked about RedStone’s fundraising activities and if Mr. Santos was participating in them, both Mr. Santos and his attorney declined to comment. But in November 2021, as Mr. Santos was getting ready to make a second bid for Congress, he did have connections to a Redstone Strategies LLC registered to a Merritt Island, Florida, address. One of the company’s management officers was the Devolder Organization, a company controlled by Mr. Santos.
Redstone is run by “experts in marketing and others in politics,” according to the company website. Redstone’s services in ad creation, communications, and fund-raising are valuable “no matter if you are in a local race or if you are going to be the next president of the United States,” the website claims.
However, it appears that the firm has only completed a small number of projects, at least for candidates and groups that are required to file campaign cost reports. Payments from two organisations connected to New York legislative candidates as well as a failed Long Island House candidate were found in a Times check of campaign finance records.
Additionally, it displays a donation from Rise NY, a PAC chaired by Tiffany Santos, the sister of Mr. Santos. According to state documents, the group made a wire payment for $6,000 in April 2022 to Red Stone Strategies. It listed a Wells Fargo Bank branch on Merritt Island as its address.
An “independent expenditure committee under federal campaign finance law” with the “singular purpose” of electing Mr. Santos was characterised in the email sent to the donor.
These organisations, commonly referred to as super PACs, are able to help candidates by amassing enormous quantities of cash far outside of rigid campaign contributor restrictions. However, they must declare their donors and register with the Federal Election Commission. Additionally, they must not communicate with campaigns directly.
But RedStone Strategies are not listed in the FEC’s records. The existence of a group going by the moniker RedStone that raised significant sums of money for Mr. Santos’ election has not previously been made public, despite The Daily Beast reporting that Redstone Strategies LLC of Florida had a connection to him.
“I don’t see a record by a committee of that name registered with the F.E.C., and our regulations would be if a political group raises more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election, they would be required to register with the F.E.C. within 10 days,” said Christian Hilland, an F.E.C. spokesman.
According to a person familiar with the arrangement who wished to remain anonymous, the person who approached the donor claimed that Mr. Santos asked him to contact donors, some of whom had already given the maximum permitted to Mr. Santos’s election campaign, and to assist in coordinating their donations to RedStone.
RedStone queries from The Times were not answered by a lawyer for Mr. Santos because, in his words, “it would be inappropriate to respond to anything related to this apparent investigation of my client’s campaign finances.”
After The Times revealed last month that Mr. Santos’s successful campaign for Congress in New York was founded on lies, including fabrications of real estate fortune, academic excellence, and a sparkling career on Wall Street, Mr. Santos’ financial situation has come under examination.
Investigators from the municipal, state, and federal levels are interested in learning more about his web of personal and political entities as well as whether or how they are connected. His abrupt assertion of wealth has also sparked some controversy.
Mr. Santos asserted in financial declarations he submitted as a candidate that, in a matter of years, he went from making $55,000 to managing a business worth more than $1 million. That supposedly made it possible for him to contribute his campaign $700,000 or slightly more than what RedStone Strategies claimed to have raised.
Many of Mr. Santos’ campaign expenses were $199.99 or less, which is precisely one cent less than the requirement for receipts, raising concerns about his spending. The Campaign Legal Center accused Mr. Santos of conspiring to conceal the true source of his campaign funding, as well as using campaign funds for personal expenses and misrepresenting spending, in a complaint (pdf below) that was partially based on the suspicious spending pattern and submitted to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
RedStone Strategies’ efforts to raise money appear to be just as hazy.
The Queens Republican Party member who asked for the $25,000 donation to RedStone described himself as Mr. Santos’ acquaintance.
One donor claimed that Samuel Miele, who identified himself as the vice president of Rise NY in an email, contacted him and asked for money for the PAC. In addition to working for Mr. Santos directly, Mr. Miele was subsequently fired after he was discovered posing as a staff member for Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader at the time, in a fund-raising plea, according to several people familiar with the campaign.
The Santos campaign and Rise NY PAC both contributed $43,000 to the One 57 Group, a business that Mr. Miele oversees. When contacted for comment, Mr. Miele did not respond.
Two former Santos campaign advisors who asked to remain anonymous so they could openly discuss their former client said they were concerned about the strong relationship between the campaign and Rise NY and advised Mr. Santos to end it. A third former consultant declined Mr. Santos’ allegedly lucrative offer to raise money for the PAC, citing legal considerations.
Read the complaint given below: