A longtime Pentagon official warned Wednesday that Rep.-elect George Santos (R-Nassau) poses an unprecedented challenge to national security given his recent admitted lying about his background, mysterious finances and potential access to government secrets after he takes office in January.
“Every congressman has eligibility for access to classified information and that terrifies security professionals, because they haven’t been really reviewed for it,” Dan Meyer, now the managing director of the law firm Tully Rinckey’s Washington DC office, told The Post. “We don’t know whether they’re a potential espionage threat.”
Reporting by The Post and other media outlets has highlighted how Santos — who has copped to lying about much of his background — somehow made millions with a company he claims leveraged his contacts to sell used luxury items like yachts for six-figure fees.
Santos’ own campaign filings did not disclose any clients giving him business of more than $5,000, as required by federal law — fueling speculation about how the 34-year-old got the money considering his past record of stiffing landlords and toiling for five-figure incomes.
In campaign filings, Santos reported earning $750,000 from his Devolder Organization, along with dividends valued between $1 million and $5 million. As recently as 2020, however, he reported making just $55,000 in annual salary.
In late November, the Daily Beast reported that Andrew Intrater — a cousin of and money manager for sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg — gave more than $56,000 to political committees supporting Santos, who defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman Nov. 8.
In addition, filings with the Federal Election Commission show Santos loaned his own successful House campaign more than $700,000 — almost as much as his reported salary.
“What really worries me as a security professional is that $700,000,” said Meyer, whose national security experience ranges from fighting pirates in the Middle East to handling intelligence disclosures on stateside matters like the 9/11 attacks.
“Somebody who could generate $700,000 like that could also probably generate several hundred thousand dollars to be comfortably situated in a foreign country.”
According to Meyer, the questions surrounding Santos are especially urgent considering how technology enables espionage like never before.
“This is not the 1970s, where it’ll take weeks for the stuff to kind of Bumble along. Even if you were going to betray the country back then, you had to figure out a way to contact the Russians,” he said. “But now, it can happen at a moment’s notice.”
Ultimately, House leadership and intelligence officials determine the level of access reps like Santos have to the most sensitive secrets held by the federal government.
The putative frontrunner to be House Speaker next January, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Santos, who did not immediately respond to Meyer’s comments, has dismissed calls to resign the seat he won weeks ago, claiming he did nothing illegal.