Candidates for elected office will do a lot of things to get a fundraising edge in a tight race. But in a close three-way race for City Council in southern Brooklyn, accepting donations from embattled Republican Rep. George Santos isn’t one of them.
Republican City Council candidate Ying Tan returned a $50 donation that appeared to be made by Santos. According to city campaign finance records, a George Santos – whose employer is noted as “US house or representatives,” and occupation as “US Representative” – donated $50 to Tan on Sept. 11. In the most recent campaign finance reporting period, that donation was noted as returned by the Tan campaign.
Santos did not explicitly confirm that he made the donation – as opposed to someone just using his name – and Tan’s campaign doesn’t know definitively that it came from Santos. But Tan’s campaign said that they returned the donation nevertheless, explaining in an emailed statement, “In light of the ongoing investigation into potential misconduct by Representative Santos, our campaign made the decision not to accept his contribution. This policy applies to any individual currently facing prosecution.”
Santos, who lied about vast swaths of his resume to get elected last year, is facing an array of charges in the Eastern District of New York, including that he used donors’ credit cards to make unauthorized charges and spent campaign funds on personal expenses. (He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.) Santos is running for reelection in the 3rd Congressional District, but is now also facing an expulsion effort led by some of his own Republican colleagues in Congress.
In a short phone conversation on Monday, Santos declined to confirm to City & State that he donated to Tan’s campaign, instead pointing to an emailed statement he sent earlier that read, “I didn’t notice a refund however, this question is more relevant to the candidate in question, good luck with your hit piece eight days before Election Day.”
Tan is running in the new City Council district in southern Brooklyn against Democrat Susan Zhuang and Vito LaBella, who is running on the Conservative Party line. As of Oct. 23, Zhuang had raised $433,396, Tan had raised $339,449 and LaBella had raised $110,104 – all including both public and private funds. Among Tan’s expenditures in the most recent reporting period was $1,200 paid to a private investigator, who the campaign said they retained to look into Zhuang’s residency in the district. It was previously reported during the primary that Zhuang lived in Indiana for several years before moving back to New York in 2022.