(NewsNation) — Republican Congressman George Santos is denying claims that he stole $3,000 from a GoFundMe that was intended to go toward veterinary care for a disabled veteran’s dying dog.
It’s the latest in a long list of scandals Santos faces just weeks into his first term in Congress. A New York Times investigation published last month revealed Santos lied about much of his work background and education, which he later admitted to.
Now, Richard Osthoff, who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2002, is accusing Santos of setting up a GoFundMe for his dog who needed lifesaving care and taking off with the money in 2016. Osthoff first gave his account of the story to Patch, which reported it on Tuesday.
Osthoff claims his dog, Sapphire, needed surgery to remove a stomach tumor, and a vet tech told him about someone who ran a pet charity that might be able to help. That man, Osthoff says, was Anthony Devolder, and his pet charity was called Friends of Pets United.
Anthony Devolder is the name Santos used for years before entering politics in 2020. Federal prosecutors are looking into Santos’ litany of lies, and several Democrats and Republicans have called on him to resign.
Osthoff and another New Jersey veteran, Michael Boll, say Santos closed the GoFundMe he set up for Sapphire and disappeared after $3,000 was raised. As Osthoff waited to receive the money, Sapphire’s condition worsened to the point she had to be put down.
“It was just excuse, after excuse, after excuse, after excuse,” Osthoff told NewsNation affiliate WPIX. “I had to panhandle for the money to get her euthanized.”
In a text message to a reporter for news outlet Semafor, Santos called the allegations “fake” and said he has no idea who Osthoff is.
The article in Patch includes alleged text messages between Osthoff and Santos, who said that because Osthoff “didn’t do things my way” he put the money to use “for other dogs.”
The New York Times reported that Friends of Pets United was not listed as a charity in official records, and a beneficiary of the fundraiser in 2017 said they had never seen the money.
There is social media evidence that the fundraising campaign occurred, including a 2016 tweet that reads: “Click here to support sapphire The Veteran rescue! by Anthony Devolder.” It has a link to a non-functioning GoFundMe page.
When Olthoff learned Santos was elected to Congress, he said it threw him for a loop.
“I couldn’t breathe for a couple of seconds when I saw him on TV,” Osthoff said.