Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Has Santos' Achilles' Heel Been Exposed?

As long as we are on the subject of committee assignments, Rep. "George Santos" (R-NY) has now received his. He'll be on the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Those are undoubtedly fitting choices for the man who built McDonalds from a small hamburger stand into a global empire and then served a 5-year mission as captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Forgive the apparent non sequitur, but we could not help but be reminded of Andrew Jackson when we read this news. When asked for his opinion about then-rising-Democratic-star James Buchanan, "Old Hickory" gave a less-than-glowing review. When the questioner observed that Jackson had seen fit to appoint Buchanan as minister to Russia, Jackson explained that Russia was as far away as he could send Buchanan, and where he would therefore do the least damage. "I would have sent him to the North Pole if we had kept a minister there," noted the former president.

In other words, Kevin McCarthy clearly stuck Santos on the committees where he is least likely to embarrass the House Republican Conference. Given that nobody actually knows what the New Yorker's qualifications are, that's as good a standard for choosing as any, we suppose.

Moving along, there is a new story nearly every day involving some new bit of dirt about the Representative that someone has dug up. We have largely been ignoring those because they don't have much significance unless they raise the real possibility of Santos having to leave his seat prematurely, either due to peer pressure or due to criminal exposure. The latest revelation, as chance would have it, may check both boxes.

The newest skeleton from Santos' closet comes courtesy of Patch, which normally aggregates news rather than breaking it. According to their reporting, a Navy veteran named Richard Osthoff was homeless, and so was living on the street with his service dog, Sapphire. Sapphire needed an expensive operation that Osthoff could not afford. However, he was put in touch with Santos (then going by "Anthony Devolder," and Santos offered to help launch a GoFundMe fundraising drive. Osthoff was delighted to be presented with a solution to his problem.

The GoFundMe was a success, in that it did raise the $3,000 needed for the operation. But then things went off the rails, according to Osthoff. He never got the money, and when he tried to contact Santos/Devolder, he got the runaround. Someone withdrew the funds, but whoever it was, it wasn't Osthoff. Sapphire never got her operation, and had to be put down 6 months later. Osthoff had to panhandle to raise the money for euthanasia and cremation, an experience he describes as "one of the most degrading things I ever had to do."

Santos, as you would expect, has denied everything, and described Osthoff's story as "shocking" and "insane." That was probably not the best response. The existence of the GoFundMe campaign can be proven, and Osthoff has text messages and tweets from 2016 (i.e., long before Santos was a politician) that support his narrative. At that time, Santos/Devolder claimed that his organization could not help Sapphire, and that the money was being rerouted to other worthy dogs. If the Representative had stuck with that claim, well, at least it would have been consistent. But now, in addition to having lied about so many other things, he's told two very different versions of this story—the 2016 version and the 2023 version. This does not suggest someone who is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, if Santos was looking to alienate voters, then victimizing a veteran and a dog, and in a manner where the dog ended up dead, was certainly the way to do it. If only he could have worked stealing candy from a baby in there, he'd have the trifecta. Meanwhile, if he helped fundraise for [reason X] and then used that money for [anything but reason X], that is fraud. And it should be fairly easy to investigate; after all, GoFundMe keeps records. The statute of limitations for fraud in New York State is 6 years, so that might have run out in this case, depending on the exact timing of events. But if Santos really did pull this stunt, it's unlikely he limited himself to doing it on just one occasion. (Z)

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