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Santos campaign fundraiser pleads guilty in scheme to solicit political contributions

Second person in the New York Republican’s camp who has admitted to a federal crime tied to the campaign

Rep. George Santos gives a tour of the Capitol Rotunda earlier this month.
Rep. George Santos gives a tour of the Capitol Rotunda earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A former campaign fundraiser for Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty Tuesday, the second person in the New York Republican’s camp who has admitted to a federal crime tied to the campaign.

Samuel Miele, 27, pleaded guilty to wire fraud as part of a scheme to improperly obtain political donations, the Justice Department announced. Sentencing is scheduled for April 30 before Judge Joanna Seybert of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Miele was charged in August with four counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in connection with impersonating former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff. Miele, who got a 15 percent cut for each contribution he raised for the Santos campaign, used an email account posing as the McCarthy staffer, Dan Meyer, to solicit more than a dozen potential donors, the indictment stated.

In September 2022, Miele sent a letter to Santos saying he was “faking my identity to a big donor” and that the action was “high risk, high reward in everything I do,” according to the indictment.

Kevin Marino, Miele’s lawyer, said his client is an “an intelligent young man with a bright future who made an unfortunate mistake. He has taken full responsibility for his actions and looks forward to putting this episode behind him and getting on with his life.”

Santos’ former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty in October to a federal conspiracy charge. Marks and Santos executed a fraudulent scheme to obtain campaign funds by submitting false reports to the Federal Election Commission, the Department of Justice said.

Santos has been defiant and said he plans to fight the 23 federal criminal charges against him at trial. Those charges include fraudulently getting more than $24,000 in unemployment benefits, unauthorized charges to his campaign donors’ credit cards, lying on House financial disclosure forms and defrauding campaign supporters by spending their money on luxury designer clothes.

Earlier this month, Santos easily survived a second attempt from his colleagues to purge him from the chamber.

House Ethics ranking member Susan Wild, D-Pa., said the ethics panel’s report regarding Santos will be released Thursday. Wild called the report “really comprehensive” and said the committee staff went “above and beyond” in preparing it.