A Republican lawmaker has denied allegations he scammed a disabled military veteran who was raising money for his dog’s cancer surgery.
“Fake. No clue who this is,” George Santos said in response to the story, first reported by Patch on Tuesday.
The New York congressman is facing multiple calls to resign over claims he fabricated much of his resume to win his seat.
Despite the controversy, he has been assigned to serve on two committees.
The 34-year-old will sit on the House of Representatives small business, and science, space and technology panels.
One committee conducts oversight on matters that affect small business, while the latter oversees non-defence issues related to scientific research and development.
The latest denial comes as Mr Santos faces the growing prospect of investigation by the House’s ethics committee, as well as inquiries by the US federal government and in his native Brazil.
Local party leaders and even some of Mr Santos’ own colleagues have called for him to step down after he admitted that the narrative of his life he provided to voters was largely made up.
That includes lies about his faith, college degrees, and work experience.
The latest accusations come from a US Navy veteran in neighbouring New Jersey.
Richard Osthoff told Patch.com, a US news organisation, that, when his service pit bull Sapphire developed a stomach tumour in 2016, he sought Mr Santos’s help in raising $3,000 (£2,417) for the dog’s surgery.
According to Mr Osthoff, a veterinary technician had connected him with Mr Santos, who was using the name Anthony Devolder at the time, saying he ran a charity named Friends of Pets United and “can help you”.
Mr Santos ran a GoFundMe fundraising page on Sapphire’s behalf, he claims, but then disappeared and “stopped answering my texts and calls”. When confronted by a friend of Mr Osthoff, Mr Santos allegedly said he planned to use the money to help other animals.
Mr Osthoff said that Sapphire died in January 2017 and he was unable to afford cremation or euthanasia.
Republican leaders in the House have so far declined to call for Mr Santos’ resignation over the lies he has admitted to telling.
Kevin McCarthy – who relied on the first term congressman’s support in a marathon 15-round vote to become House Speaker earlier this month – has said he “always had a few questions” about Mr Santos but will allow him to “continue to serve”.
“The voters elected him to serve,” Mr McCarthy said. “If there is a concern, and he has to go through the Ethics [Committee], let him move through that.”