See update at end of story.
Thanks to a new report from the U.S. House of Representatives in far-away Washington, D.C., there’s a new candidate for my long-running list, “It Didn’t Stay Here.” That’s a roster of folks in trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas. The concept is a refutation of “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” That’s the celebrated marketing slogan dreamed up just two decades ago for the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority in part to, it seems, help draw ne’er-do-wells with spendable financial resources to Sin City. The full list is nearby.
The newest entry: George Santos. He’s the Republican Congressman from Long Island, N.Y., in trouble for allegedly stealing and lying his way into the House. If an official report is correct, his checkered route took him through Sin City.
Just to refresh: Santos, now 35, was elected in November 2022 to an open seat, which helped switch control of the lower house from Democrats to Republicans. Soon after the election–a little too late–The New York Times and others realized Santos was more or less a total fraud in the way he described his background and reported his campaign finances. Santos was lucky that his Democratic opponent, Robert Zimmerman, had the worst oppo research team in the history of oppo research teams.
Earlier this year a federal grand jury in New York indicted Santos on 23 fraud-related counts. Santos pleaded not guilty but has said he does not plan to run for re-election. He faces an expulsion vote in the House.
The 58-page report issued yesterday came from the Investigative Subcommittee of the House Ethics Committee, organized in February to look into Santos. The stinging conclusion: “At nearly every opportunity, he placed his desire for private gain above his duty to uphold the Constitution, federal law, and ethical principles.”
From the report:
The [subcommittee] also reviewed additional taxi and hotel charges on the campaign credit card that were incurred in Las Vegas in December 2021, during a time when Representative Santos had told his campaign staff that he was on his honeymoon and there were no corresponding events on his calendar.
It goes without saying that honeymoons should not be funded by campaign donations.
This trip to the Strip took place nearly a year before Santos was elected. The public portion of the report, sadly, contained no additional detail about the adventure, like where and how much. The information was sourced in a footnote to “Witness No. 4.” Witness No. 4 apparently was a former member of Santos’s campaign staff, judging from another passage in the report so sourced: “Members of Representative Santos’ own campaign staff viewed him as a ‘fabulist,’ whose penchant for telling lies was so concerning that he was encouraged to seek treatment.”
Santos’s past and present marital status has been the subject of considerable confusion. But news accounts last month quoted Santos as saying he married Matheus Gerald, 27, in November 2021. Both are described as native Brazilians who emigrated to the U.S.
Since becoming New To Las Vegas, I have been amazed by the area’s lure as a bug light for mischief, sometimes involving well-known people from afar. Indeed, the last two U.S. presidents–Donald J. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr–are nominees. Trump, in fact, is listed twice, once for cavorting with Russians and again for pumping up asset valuations. Biden had to deal with fallout on the national stage from being a little too touchy-feely.
So when it comes to Vegas, Santos has followed a well-trodded path.