Aide Fired by Santos Raises More Ethics Issues

Derek Myers says he got job after sending cash payments to Santos' top deputy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2023 12:00 PM CDT
Aide Fired by Santos Raises More Ethics Issues
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside the Capitol, as aide Vish Burra listens on May 17, 2023.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A man who briefly worked as an aide to Rep. George Santos says he got his job after sending a series of payments to one of the congressman's top deputies, per the AP. Derek Myers, 31, told staff of the House’s ethics subcommittee during an interview Wednesday that while he was trying to get a job in Santos' congressional office in late January, he sent at least seven $150 payments to Santos' director of operations, Vish Burra. Myers shared details about the payments, including receipts and text messages, with the AP. His account of how Burra helped him get hired hasn’t previously been reported and raises questions about potential ethical improprieties around Santos.

Myers said he began sending the money unsolicited because he believed Burra, a right-wing political operative, wasn’t getting paid by the House at the time and couldn’t afford food. But he said he also hoped the payments might help him secure a job. “Burra was a powerful person,” Myers told the AP. “I wanted him to advocate on my behalf.” Burra, a reliable presence beside Santos who helped escort his boss away from journalists after his arraignment in federal court last month, declined to comment. House investigators questioned Myers about the payments as part of a probe into workplace sexual harassment allegations Myers made after being dismissed 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 the position. At the time, Santos told Myers he was concerned by the findings of a background check, which showed Myers had been charged with wiretapping in Ohio after publishing a recording of a trial. In a February letter sent to the House Committee on Ethics, Myers said he was ousted after he spurned Santos’ sexual advances, accusing the congressman of running his hand along his inner leg and touching his groin while they were alone in the office. Santos has denied the allegation. The House Ethics Committee is investigating several allegations of improper behavior by Santos, who has admitted to fabricating much of his biography and is facing federal charges that include fraud and money laundering.

(More George Santos stories.)

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