Assistant fired by George Santos says he got job after sending money to Republican deputy

NEW YORK (AP) — A man who briefly worked as an aide to U.S. Representative George Santos says he got his job after sending a series of payments to a top Republican lawmaker.

Derek Myers, 31, told House Ethics Subcommittee staff in an interview Wednesday that while trying to get a job at the Santos Congressional office in late January, he sent at least seven $150 payments to Santos COO Vish Burra. .

Myers shared details about the payments, including receipts and text messages, with The Associated Press. His account of how Burra helped him get hired has not been previously reported and raises questions about potential ethical improprieties around Santos.

Myers said he started sending unsolicited money because he believed Burra, a right-wing political operative, was not being paid by the House at the time and could not afford to. Eat. But he said he also hoped the payments could help him find a job.

“Burra was a powerful person,” Myers told the AP. “I wanted him to plead on my behalf.”

Burra, a reliable presence alongside Santos who helped escort his boss away from reporters after he was arraigned in federal court last month, declined to comment.

House investigators asked Myers about the payments, documented in receipts and text messages, as part of an investigation into allegations of workplace sexual harassment Myers made after he was fired from Santos staff in February.

Myers, a former journalist, received a job offer to be a legislative assistant in late January, but lasted less than a week in that position. At the time, Santos told Myers he was concerned about the findings of a background check, which showed Myers had been charged with wiretapping in Ohio after he released a recording of a trial. .

In a February letter sent to the House Ethics Committee, Myers said he was ousted after rejecting Santos’ sexual advances, accusing the congressman of running his hand down his inner leg and touching his groin while they were alone in the office.

Santos denied the allegation, calling it “comical”.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating several allegations of inappropriate behavior by Santos, who admitted fabricating much of his biography and is currently facing federal charges of fraud and money laundering.

Last month, Republicans in the House avoided a vote to expel Santos, referring the matter to the ethics committee. The committee has not disclosed who it is interviewing or when a decision might be made.

On Wednesday, committee members spent two hours questioning Myers about his allegations of sexual harassment, his relationship with Burra and whether he had witnessed any illegal behavior during his short stint in office.

He described finding Burra online and then pushing for a job at Santos’ office out of a sincere desire to help the scandal-scarred representative.

Myers also provided documents, including emails and text messages with staff members and receipts showing his Venmo payments to Burra.

In his interview, Myers said that Burra didn’t ask him for money, but once asked that he “send more pizza”, which he took as a reference to the pizza emoji they had previously used in Venmo subject lines.

House investigators asked Myers about a text exchange he had with Burra on Jan. 29, days after he was offered the job. In that exchange, Myers had asked Burra, “Have you gotten paid yet?”

“No. You didn’t have to do this man,” Burra replied, later adding, “I’ll pay you back for sure.”

Myers admitted during his interview with House investigators that he secretly recorded at least one conversation with Santos and then shared it with a reporter. He also said he went to the FBI while still working for Santos, with the intention of eventually working as a confidential informant for law enforcement.

He said he decided to speak out about the harassment incident after he was forced out of his job.

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