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- More people are coming forward and accusing George Santos of pocketing funds meant for pets.
- Andrea Dos Santos, a veterinary technician, said she never received $2,165 meant for a pet shelter.
- “It was excuse after excuse after excuse,” Dos Santos told The New York Times.
More people are coming forward to question whether Rep. George Santos really helped rescue 2,500 animals, or if he just pocketed money raised for pets.
The New York Times spoke to several people who worked with Santos on a charity called Friends of Pets United, which he claims he founded.
The Times’ sources said they think Santos saved far fewer animals than the “2400 dogs and 280 cats” that he claimed in 2020 to have rescued. The sources also said they either never got any money from Santos-run fundraisers or were given a far lower amount of cash than they had been promised.
Andrea Dos Santos, a veterinary technician, told The Times that in 2017, Santos offered to help her raise funds for her farm in New Jersey. Dos Santos said she worked with Santos to sell $50 tickets to a barbecue with live music and drinks. The proceeds from the event, Dos Santos said, were meant to go to building a new shelter for abused pets.
Dos Santos said they raised $2,165. But she never received any money from Santos, who had handled the funds. She told The Times she found it hard to contact Santos after the fundraiser.
“It was excuse after excuse after excuse,” Dos Santos said.
Regina Spadavecchia, who runs a Bronx pet rescue called Adore-a-Bullie Paws and Claws, told The Times that she accepted Santos’ offer to help her raise funds in March 2017. Spadavecchia said Santos held a $5 raffle on Facebook for a dinner cruise and Broadway tickets, appealing for funds for the dozen dogs in Spadavecchia’s care.
Spadavecchia said Santos sent her only around $400, instead of the thousands of dollars he had promised her.
“If you’re doing fund-raising in my name, and you’re claiming you can make a couple of thousand, and you’re sending me $400, then something’s off,” Ms. Spadavecchia told the Times. “You’re either boasting about stuff you can’t do, or you’re keeping money on the side. I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Monica Cunha, one of Santos’ acquaintances on Facebook, told The Times that Santos claimed he would take in dogs whose owners could not care for them. But Cunha said Santos rarely posted about the dogs’ adoption process.
According to The Washington Post, Santos in November 2020 claimed on his campaign website that he “founded and ran a nonprofit 501(c)(3) called Friends of Pets United (FOPU) from 2013 – 2018.”
A December 19 investigation from The Times revealed that Friends of Pets United was not a registered animal rescue organization in New York.
The FBI in January also kicked off an investigation into whether Santos took more than $3,000 from a GoFundMe fundraiser meant for a military veteran’s dog, per Politico.
Santos has denied scamming the veteran, Rich Osthoff, of funds from the GoFundMe page. The congressman tweeted on January 20 that he thought reports that he would let a dog die were “shocking & insane.”
“My work in animal advocacy was the labor of love & hard work,” Santos wrote.
Santos has admitted to lying about various elements of his past, including going to university, being Jewish, and working at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Santos has refused to resign from his congressional seat despite these scandals, saying he will only do so if the people who voted for him in New York demand it.
Representatives for Santos did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.