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George Santos took campaign donation from an Italian who was caught smuggling undocumented migrants into the US

Republican Rep. George Santos of New York in the House Chamber on January 4, 2023.Republican Rep. George Santos of New York in the House Chamber on January 4, 2023.


  • George Santos accepted a campaign contribution from an Italian people smuggler, per The Daily Beast.
  • Rocco Oppedisano was caught trying to smuggle 14 undocumented migrants into the US in 2019.
  • Oppedisano’s family runs a restaurant to which Santos’ campaign has made some unusual payments.

Rep. George Santos, who is facing a slew of allegations of campaign-finance violations, took a potentially illegal campaign donation from an Italian national who was caught smuggling undocumented migrants into the US, The Daily Beast reported.

Rocco Oppedisano, who donated $500 to the Santos campaign in September 2022, was stopped by the US Coast Guard in December 2019 when was sailing a yacht from The Bahamas towards Florida, per The Beast.

Custom agents gained entry to the yacht’s stateroom and inside found 14 undocumented Chinese migrants, a Bahamian national, and more than $200,000 stuffed into the walls, The Beast reported.

Oppedisano was charged and later pleaded guilty to bringing aliens into the US for commercial and private financial gain, court records show.

He was also charged with illegally seeking to re-enter the US, after he was stripped of US permanent resident status in 2019 following a drug and firearms bust at a home he was staying at in 2009, per The Beast. Oppedisano did not plead guilty to that charge.

While a small sum, accepting a campaign donation from Oppedisano could be seen as hypocritical given Santos’ hardline position on illegal immigration, which he has described as having “deadly consequences.”. Federal law also prohibits contributions or donations from foreign nationals to US political campaigns.

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told The Beast that such a gift would be unequivocally forbidden.

The donation also raised the spotlight on other questionable financial conduct related to Santos, Oppedisano, and Oppedisano’s family members.

Rocco Oppedisano’s brother Joseph, and niece Tina, run an Italian restaurant in Little Neck, New York, The Beast reported.

Santos’ campaign has spent more than $25,000 at the restaurant, Il Bacco, since his first run for Congress in 2020, federal campaign finance records show, per The Beast.

Financial records show that many of the receipts at the restaurant came in at $199.99 — exactly a cent short of the threshold that would require the Santos campaign to keep documentation of the transactions.

The non-partisan group Campaign Legal Center (CLC) called this fact “astounding” in a civil complaint to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

“The sheer number of these just-under-$200 disbursements is implausible, and some payments appear to be impossible given the nature of the item or service covered,” the CLC said.

In an article published by Talking Points Memo on Tuesday, an unnamed former Santos’ staffer said there were “weird, weird things” going on with the campaign’s finances.

“I don’t know why we were at Il Bacco all the time,” the staffer said, per TPM.

The source also told the publication that financial impropriety will likely lead to Santos being “perp walked” out of Congress.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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