The Jolt: George Santos hires new Georgia operatives

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Embattled U.S. Rep. George Santos was indicted last month on 13 federal criminal charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

Now the Republican and accused fabulist from New York also has a Georgia connection, having recently hired two familiar operatives to handle the books for his campaign committees. In May 30 filings with the Federal Election Commission, Santos listed Jason Boles and Rick Thompson as the treasurer and designated agent of the Devolder-Santos for Congress Committee and the Devolder Santos for Congress Recount Committee.

Thompson and Boles are the principals at Alpharetta-based RTA Strategy. Their campaign and PAC regulatory reporting firm promises its clients something that Santos appears to have been missing so far: “crisp, clean financial and ethical reporting strategies.”

The Georgia hires come after months of accusations about who Santos’ campaign treasurer really is. In January, New York’s ABC affiliate reported that Santos had listed a veteran New York operative as campaign treasurer, even though the operative had declined to work for the campaign.

A Washington watchdog group then filed a complaint about his next campaign treasurer, Andrew Olson, alleging that Olson may not even exist.

And in campaign filings earlier this month, Santos then listed himself as the treasurer of his own campaign committees, which New York news outlets noted is highly unusual.

We can report that his new hires, Boles and Thompson, do indeed exist. They have worked in the past for multiple Georgia and national candidates and campaigns, including U.S. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome), and will also be on board for former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s presidential bid. Thompson is also a member of the Georgia ethics commission.

In a text exchange with our James Salzer, Thompson explained, “Everyone deserves the best compliance team.”


PUTTING THE “GA” IN MAGA. There might be no better illustration of the Georgia GOP’s tilt toward the party’s Donald Trump wing than Wednesday’s scheduling switcheroo for the state party lineup, with days to go until next week’s event.

Party chair David Shafer told delegates that former Vice President Mike Pence, made into a villain by Trump and his loyalists, would no longer give the keynote on June 9. He’ll be replaced by Kari Lake, the ex-Arizona gubernatorial contender who is a favorite of MAGA types.

The reason Shafer gave for Pence’s cancellation was a “televised national town hall at which he will be making an announcement regarding his future plans.” Yet Pence is expected to launch his bid for president two days earlier, on June 7.

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

The last time Pence headlined a rally in Georgia, it was in front of a friendly crowd of mainstream-types on behalf of Gov. Brian Kemp. The former VP was treated to rounds of ovations for breaking with Trump, who backed a Kemp rival in that primary.

The GOP convention will feature a far different audience, one that booed Kemp a few years ago. Pence was almost certainly bound to get the same reception had he shown up at next week’s event — one reason why his Georgia supporters were relieved that he’ll skip the whole affair.


Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

KEMP MACHINE. Shrugs, scoffs and mehs. That was the reaction from several of the Democratic state legislators that Gov. Brian Kemp’s political machine vowed to target in next year’s election.

One of the most memorable responses came from state Sen. Josh McLaurin, a Sandy Springs attorney who posted a note he received from a conservative voter who disagrees with him on abortion, but backed the Democrat because of his support for firearm restrictions.

“Kemp’s staff should read that twice,” he wrote. “Good luck.”


RAISING THE CEILING. On the one hand, Wednesday’s House vote on raising the debt limit was a triumph for Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Two-thirds of his fellow Republicans voted in favor of the legislation he negotiated with President Joe Biden to extend the debt ceiling for two years in exchange for spending cuts.

But on the other hand, the legislation could mean more headaches down the road for the Republican speaker. Far-right conservatives who oppose the measure were angry at the fact that more Democrats supported the bill than Republicans.

It only takes a single disgruntled member to call for a vote to oust McCarthy as speaker. But he doesn’t have to worry about that for now. The House is out until Tuesday, giving members time to cool off after a contentious vote.

Now Senate leaders are hoping to fast-track the legislation and get it to President Biden to sign into law before the weekend.

Here is how the math played out for the House vote:

  • Of the 314 members in favor of the legislation, 165 were Democrats and 149 were Republicans.
  • Of the 117 opposed, 71 were Republicans and 46 were Democrats.
  • Four Georgia lawmakers voted “no”: Democrat Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) and Republicans Andrew Clyde (R-Athens), Mike Collins (R-Jackson) and Rich McCormick (R-Suwanee). More here about their votes.
  • An unexpected name getting credit for helping the bipartisan deal get across the finish line: Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome), a key ally to the speaker.


Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

OSSOFF FAN. Speaking of unexpected twists, Buckhead City booster and former Atlantan Bill White spoke extensively about his anger toward Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republicans he believes tanked the Buckhead cityhood effort in a lengthy exit interview with one of your Insiders.

But he had surprisingly nice things to say about the man Kemp could face in an election down the road if he chose a Senate bid in 2026 — U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.

White said his Lake Burton neighbors, who are Republicans, spoke so highly of Ossoff’s constituent services and staff responsiveness that he started watching the Atlanta Democrat more closely.

“He’s being very smart,” White said. “I’ve reserved judgment on him. I’m very impressed.”

But White is unlikely to vote for Ossoff in 2026, only since he and his husband will soon be Florida residents. They’re planning to register to vote as soon as possible in order to cast their ballots for former President Donald Trump over Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Florida GOP primary. “That’s two more for Trump.”



  • The U.S. Senate will vote on a House-passed bill overturning President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan and begin debate on the debt limit legislation.
  • The House is done for the week and is expected to return Tuesday.
  • President Joe Biden will deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.


BECOMING CLARENCE THOMAS. The new season of Slate’s “Slow Burn” podcast is all about Georgia native Clarence Thomas, the conservative Supreme Court justice who has been the source of scrutiny and controversy throughout his tenure on the high court.

Episode 1 debuted Wednesday and host Joel Anderson, a former AJC staffer, begins with nuggets about Thomas’s upbringing and early career choices, which included exploring becoming a priest.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Anderson talked about his interview with Thomas’ 94-year-old mother that even prior to the podcast’s release made news because it confirmed media reports about her Savannah home being purchased by billionaire Harlan Crow.

The first episode also covers how Thomas, a critic of affirmative action, has benefited from it in the past.

“At every stage of his career — academic and professional — affirmative action played a really pivotal role,” Anderson said. “And so, the idea that in a few months, or within a month, he may be ruling to end affirmative action in this country the way it exists currently today is really ironic, because that’s the guy that benefited a lot from the race-based preferences.”


Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. Some nominations for Dog of the Day come with lengthy introductions and details. Others may be so devoid of information we reach out to the pet lovers to find out more about their pooches.

But sometimes a few words says it all, as was the case this week with Duke Goodman, the obviously adored, copiously curly-haired pup of state Sen. Russ Goodman, R-Cogdell.

We don’t know anything about Duke’s breed, age or hobbies, and we don’t really need to, since Goodman’s description is all anyone really needs to know.

“Duke … the greatest dog who ever lived and ever will live.” Enough said.

Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and cats on a cat-by-cat basis to, or DM us on Twitter @MurphyAJC.


AS ALWAYS, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and