New audio captures George Santos asking filmmaker to pay him for interview
Newly released audio reveals that Republican Congressman George Santos allegedly attempted to solicit a payment from journalists for appearing in a documentary.
Filmmaker Blake Zeff and a production team were developing a project involving Mr Santos, but decided to scrap the project after they realised the congressman would be expecting "lots" of money, he said.
Mr Zeff recorded conversations between his team and Mr Santos while planning the project. During negotiations, which Mr Zeff shared on MSNBC, Mr Santos allegedly asked what the project will mean for him "monetarily."
"Look, I don't have a number in my head," Mr Santos appears to say in the recordings. “Like, the fact that I’m having these conversations, these are conversations I never in a million years thought I would be having. But when in Rome, you know, let’s have the conversations.”
NEW AUDIO: George Santos asks about money for interview. pic.twitter.com/5wOsARFQl8
— The Beat with Ari Melber 📺 (@TheBeatWithAri) May 11, 2023
Mr Zeff said later that Mr Santos' request to be paid for participating in the documentary was not illegal, but it was "not common" — and unethical — for a journalist to pay a subject for their involvement.
The Independent has reached out to Mr Santos for comment.
The audio resurfaced shortly after Mr Santos was indicted on 13 federal charges that include fraud, lying about his personal finances, and misuse of campaign finance funds.
Mr Santos pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday after surrendering himself into custody earlier that morning.
He has been charged with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives, according to the DOJ.
After entering his plea, Mr Santos was released on a $500,000 bond. The conditions of his release include random monitoring at his home, submission to pre-trial services, and a requirement that he relinquish his passport. He has also been prohibited from traveling outside of New York state and Washington DC without prior court approval.
His next court date is scheduled for 30 June.
Mr Santos claimed that the charges were "inaccurate" and expressed confidence that he would be found innocent.
Some of his Republican allies seem to lack the same confidence; House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters after the charges dropped that "I'm not gonna support Santos" in his upcoming re-election bid.
"I think he's got some other things to focus on in this life than running for stuff," Mr McCarthy said, according to NBC News.
The House Speaker stopped short of calling for Mr Santos' resignation.