Once Again, We Must Wonder What the Heck George Santos Is Doing

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Former Representative George Santos has raised $0 in his campaign to return to the House, and he says it’s for a good reason: to stop people from thinking he’s a grifter.

The New York Republican has a well-established reputation as a serial fabulist whose lies got him expelled from Congress. He is currently facing 23 felony counts for aggravated identity theft, credit card fraud, and illegally receiving unemployment benefits.

A report published Monday by the Daily Beast reveals that Santos hasn’t raised any money in an effort to overcome his reputation as a conman. But according to a Federal Election Commission filing, also released Monday, Santos’s campaign account has spent money without raising any, which isn’t exactly a good sign.

“I will not be raising a single dime until I’m confirmed on the ballot, unlike many in the media speculating I’m only running to ‘grift.’ I’m setting the standard that only confirmed ballot access candidates should raise money,” Santos said in a statement.

Santos is running as an independent against Nick LaLota, a Republican, in New York’s first congressional district. LaLota was one of the first members of Congress, from either party, to call for Santos’s resignation—Santos made no secret of his animosity.

“He’s not well liked. He’s an arrogant person. He’s not a nice guy. He’s cocky,” Santos said of LaLota the day before his expulsion in December. “He’s a traditional meathead, somebody who’s not nice to you for no reason.”

It’s not just LaLota, either: Santos has been on a petty, scorched-earth path since being expelled from Congress, taking shots at several of his ex-colleagues.

The former congressman faces an uphill battle running as an independent. In order to even get on the ballot, he needs to obtain enough petition signatures from district residents—which some legal experts say is unlikely. Based on Santos’s record, outside observers could think it’s another attempt for him to make a few bucks, perhaps to supplement his Cameo earnings.