When the invitation to a lunch at the Empire State Building first arrived last summer, some of George Santos’ campaign staffers were wary.

The sender described himself as a donor with deep pockets, eager to max out his contribution for the Republican congressional candidate. He signed the email Rayem Nad, an unfamiliar name in fundraising circles.

Within minutes, Santos says he learned the truth: The message was from Sam Milley, a former fundraiser who was fired from the campaign months earlier after he was caught soliciting donations under the name Dan Meyer who was then the chief of staff to House Speaker Kevin. McCarthy, who was then the Republican minority leader.

Santos said that he interpreted the invitation to the luncheon as an attempt by Meile to get a face-to-face meeting—which he could not get if he used his name—where he would like to rejoin the campaign. Could have said

Santos told The Associated Press on Friday, using a slur to emphasize his surprise, “We realized, ‘Oh… Rayem nad is spelled backwards as Dan Meyer. ‘” “My staff called the restaurant and found out it was Sam’s.”

Santos did not attend the meeting, but sent his then-treasurer, Nancy Marks, who informed Miley that she was not getting her job back, according to her spokeswoman, Gabrielle Lipsky.

Miley, 27, was arrested Wednesday on federal charges of wire fraud and felony identity theft Alleged plan to defraud donors In giving money to Santos in the name of the mayor. He pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Kevin Marino, declined to comment on the allegations, but said his client “expects to be acquitted at trial.”

Prosecutors say Miele went to great lengths to adopt a false identity, setting up a dummy email address resembling Mayer’s name as he reached out to more than a dozen donors between August and December of 2021. Santos said he was informed about the impersonation in late 2021. by the real mayor, who is now retired, and he immediately fired Milley.

alleged attempt to set up a meeting under reverse-alias, which was First reported by Semaphore, came more than six months later and was not part of the indictment. Santos called it a “desperate and bizarre” move by Miley.

Santos said, “It seems that he is obsessed and bound by this name.” “You and I, if we were caught doing something stupid like that, the last thing we would do would be to go near that name.”

The mayor did not respond to a phone message requesting comment.

Santos is notorious for fabricating major parts of his life story during his run for office. facing federal charges of his own He was accused of defrauding donors, stealing from his campaign, lying to Congress about being a millionaire, and collecting fraudulent unemployment benefits. He has pleaded not guilty. The charges could carry up to 20 years in prison.

He said he had no concerns about Meele cooperating with federal authorities, “because there is nothing to cooperate with.”

Santos has blamed his former campaign treasurer Marx for some irregularities in his campaign finances, claiming that she was “rogue”.

Following his resignation earlier this year, federal regulatory filings indicated that Thomas Dettweiler had been appointed as treasurer in his place. But Dettweiler declared that he never agreed to work for Santos.

A sometime aide in Santos’s congressional office, Derek Myers, told the staff of the House ethics subcommittee that he got his job when Sending Hundreds of Dollars in Venmo Payments To Vish Burra, the Republican’s director of operations. Myers was let go when Santos staff learned that he had been accused of wiretapping in Ohio after publishing a recording of a trial.

Santos’ former communications director Nyssa Vroom, who resigned in May, said the latest allegations of deceptive fundraising acts were par for the course in the scandal-plagued office.

“He is surrounded by people who are there to hinder the business,” he said. “Governing is not in business.”

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