|By Nate Plautz
RepresentUs Communications Consultant
November 29, 2023
In 2009, the late comedian Robin Williams quipped, “Politicians should wear sponsor jackets like NASCAR drivers.” But one year later, the Supreme Court decided to drive in a different direction. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission “opened the floodgates” to dark money, but it only exacerbated our existing political corruption problem.
Congressman George Santos was enabled, in part, by insufficient reporting laws and ineffective oversight. As our partners at Campaign Legal Center reported, “Dysfunction at the [Federal Elections Commission] has reduced transparency in our elections and faith in our political system.”
What Santos is accused of doing is shameful and illegal, but we should also see this as a broader indictment of a broken system that enables (and seemingly encourages) political corruption.
In its 56-page report, the United States House Committee on Ethics concluded that “Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.” Santos is accused of utilizing campaign funds for Botox treatments, luxurious clothing, and even an OnlyFans subscription.
While all of this is very bad, it’s also unfortunate that an entire investigation was needed to bring this to light. We may have never even learned of Santos’ alleged fraud and corruption if it were not for the fact that he was caught lying about virtually his entire resume.
We know for a fact that members of Congress routinely get away with legalized insider trading. We know that most members of Congress spend more time raising money than serving their constituents. We also know that “gaming the system” for personal gain is far too easy thanks to porous campaign finance loopholes.
Are we really surprised that someone saw this broken system as anything other than ripe for exploitation? Santos may have gotten caught, but his saga begs an obvious question: Who else is getting away with it?
RepresentUs supports strengthening campaign finance laws and putting strict limits on special interest campaign funding. Crucially, we’re working city-by-city and state-by-state to enact commonsense campaign finance reforms like banning foreign campaign spending in local elections.
The problem is so much bigger than any one corrupt politician. The solution is to uproot corruption by fixing our broken system.