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U.S. Rep. Salazar campaign committees blame $2 million in misreported cash on treasurer for her and George Santos

salazar
From left to right, U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Miami; political campaign treasurer Nancy Marks; ex-Rep. George Santos, R-New York.

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org

Nancy Marks did an unbelievable job raising funds while serving as treasurer of three political committees for Miami Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar during her 2022 re-election campaign. Truly unbelievable.

Marks, you may recall, was also the treasurer for disgraced ex-Rep. George Santos, R-NY, in 2022.

Today, Marks faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty last October in New York to conspiring with Santos to fraudulently report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and by extension, the public, how much money Santos’s campaign was taking in. She is now due to be sentenced in November. Together, they concocted contributions and loans, including a $500,000 loan Santos claimed to have made to his campaign, to qualify Santos for financial and logistical support from the Republican Party. His New York trial on various felony charges including wire fraud and identity theft is set for next September.

Salazar hired Marks in January 2021. The Santos affair erupted publicly the month after his election in November 2022. Approximately four months before, after Marks left the campaign in July 2022, Salazar for Congress and its new campaign manager, Les Williamson, blew the whistle on Marks to the FEC – blaming her for “numerous errors” the FEC later found in quarterly financial reports filed by Salazar’s committees, according to a settlement agreement

As described by the FEC, Salazar’s committee reports were a mess. The “errors” included the duplicate and incorrect reporting of contributions, disbursements and transfers; incorrect reporting of transfers and disbursements that did not occur, and failing to provide attribution information for contributors.

Annettte Taddeo

$2 million in misreported cash

The errors led the Salazar campaign, Salazar’s leadership Freedom Force PAC and her joint fundraising committee Salazar Victory, to misreport their cash on hand by a whopping $2 million in various quarterly reports in 2021. Salazar defeated Democrat Annette Taddeo by about 35,000 votes in November 2022.

At the same time, Marks deposited nearly $93,000 in checks made payable to Salazar Victory Committee and $10,000 in checks made payable to Freedom Force PAC into Salazar for Congress’s bank account.

The FEC’s conciliation report made public in January states, “The committees contend that the reporting errors and misdeposited checks are attributable to the actions of their former treasurer, Nancy Marks. The committees further contend that Marks was replaced after the committees became aware of reporting errors and Marks was unresponsive to requests for information and draft reports. The committees contend that, after Marks was replaced, the committees’ new treasurer conducted a full review of financial records and filed amended reports to correct identified errors.”

The three committees were fined a total of a relatively small amount, $22,800, likely because the Salazar campaign self-reported. The FEC has what’s known as a “Sua Sponte Submissions” policy to encourage such self-reporting of violations. Under it, penalties can be cut up to 75 percent of what might otherwise be assessed.

Marks, 58, who lives in the town of Shirley on Long Island, has agreed voluntarily to testify against Santos. The New York Times reported last year that Marks has “handled the finances of some of New York’s most powerful Republicans.” But whether she is cooperating with prosecutors regarding any of her other clients is not known.

MARKS AND ANOTHER FLORIDIAN

Despite her notoriety, FEC records indicate that Marks continues to serve as treasurer for numerous candidates and PACs, including the Gods, Guns, Life Super PAC. In Florida, that includes the zombie campaign account of Amanda Makki for Congress.

Amanda Makki

Makki is a two-time loser for a U.S. House seat in Pinellas County, falling in the 2020 and 2022 Republican primaries to Anna Paulina Luna. (Luna lost to Democrat Charlie Crist in the 2020 general election, but defeated Democrat Eric Lynn in 2022.) Makki’s not running again in 2024 and lists herself on X (formerly Twitter) as an “attorney and Republican strategist.”

Makki announced in 2021 that she was running again in 2022. She hired Nancy Marks to run her campaign May 2022. In various filings, Marks reported Makki raised $985,000 and spent $835,000. Her most recent report, signed on Jan. 9 by Marks, says she’s got about $139,000 in her moribund, or zombie, account.

Campaign accounts are supposed to be closed after candidates lose an election or leave office, but there is no law requiring that. Zombies are accounts where former candidates stash leftover cash for future use – to donate to elected officials if the ex-candidate becomes a lobbyist, or any other legal, if unsavory, purpose.

The Nancy Marks affair isn’t the first time Salazar’s had problems with the FEC. In 2021, following her upset defeat of Democratic incumbent Donna Shalala, the FEC sent warning letters to her re-election committee stating it had accepted $147,400 in illegal excessive campaign contributions for her primary run. The money was eventually refunded.

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