Does George Santos, the former Congressional Representative for New York’s 3rd District, have a favorite airline? Campaign finance data suggests he may.
George Santos is no longer a Congressional representative following a recent expulsion, giving him ample time to reflect on his financial decisions. Some of these decisions involved using campaign finances on airfare—exorbitantly so.
In late December of 2022, The New York Times traced campaign spending receipts from George Santos—recently elected that November—and found that upwards of $40,000 worth of campaign funds were spent on air travel to California, Texas, and Florida. What stands out is that these funds were likely for vacation or non-business related trips; after all, he only represents New York and has little Congressional need to travel outside New York and D.C.
Likewise, $40,000 on air travel is quite an extreme amount of money for someone who only recently won an election; you would think his name is synonymous with a long track record of legislation in Congress if he is spending that much, but indeed, his name is not.
Alongside the $40,000 in air travel was $30,000 in hotel rooms and $15,000 on private cars. Other freshman congressional candidates - Republican Congressman Nick LaLota, for one - spent around $3,000 on airfare, just 7.5% of what Santos paid.
At the time, Joe Murray, one of Santos’s lawyers, said that some of his campaign funds were spent “unwisely,” but all expenditures were legal. It remains unclear whether the campaign was spending $40,000 on Santos or his staff; it would be much more reasonable to suspect an entire team was traveling across the country for $40,000.
Of the $40,000, $38,000 was spent with Delta Air Lines on at least four occasions combined. Obviously, $40,000 would be enough for Santos to rack up quite a few SkyMiles - enough to become a Diamond Medallion member. Perhaps he strategically spent a lot early on in the campaign to gain status and reap the benefits of upgrades down the line. One witness to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) said that Santos traveled at least once per month during the campaign trail.
In an unrelated campaign spending incident from February 2022 on the campaign trail, Santos used $1500 on JetBlue flights alone, although the destination and class are unknown. Delta still reigns supreme to George Santos.
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