THE RUSSIA CONNECTIONWas George Santos Groomed to be a Russian Agent?

By Ben Frankel

Published 10 January 2023

Among the multitude of lies and falsehoods newly elected Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) has concocted, the most intriguing item – and likely the source of Santos’s most serious potential legal trouble – are his campaign finances. What is especially noticeable, and disturbing, are the generous contributions Santos has received from Viktor Vekselberg, one of Vladimir Putin’s wealthiest and most influential courtiers. “For all we know,” writes one commentator, “some foreign power may have bought itself a congressman. This isn’t outlandish speculation.”

The New York Times’ Michelle Cottle awarded the 2022 “Top Con Man” award to New York’s Congressman-Elect George Santos — quickly adding: “If that’s even his real name…”

“Pick a campaign claim by the representative-elect from New York’s Third Congressional District, and chances are, it was false,” she wrote.

The controversial freshman lawmaker was sworn into the 118th Congress early Saturday morning amid unsettling admissions he misled the voters in the run-up to a November victory and that much of the resume he presented to voters was nothing more than a concoction of lies.

The North Shore Leader  newspaper was the first to report that among the multitude of falsehoods Santos has created, the most intriguing item – and likely the source of Santos’s most serious potential legal trouble – are his campaign finances.

“Given that much of Santos’s biography has apparently been fabricated, it’s possible the most troubling components of that fabrication — from a campaign finance perspective, anyway — have not yet been fully revealed,” stated Saurav Ghosh, the director of federal campaign finance reform for the Campaign Legal Center, told The Hill.

And one of the more troubling aspects of Santos’s campaign finances is the money he has received from individuals close to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

William Bredderman of the Daily Beast has reported that the Santos campaigns of 2020 and 2022 have been the beneficiaries of generous contributions by Viktor Vekselberg, one of Putin’s wealthiest and most influential courtiers.

Vekselberg’s money was funneled to Santos’s campaigns by Andrew Intrater and his wife. Intrater’s is Vekselberg cousin, and he has operated several US-based corporate entities, whose business is tightly intertwined with that of Vekselberg.

Intrater and his wife gave the failed 2020 Santos campaign $11,600 - the maximum contribution amount then allowed. But Federal donation limits would prove a small obstacle: