Some say everyone in the world is connected by no more than six degrees of separation—meaning for better or for worse, you’re closer than you think to someone making headlines half a world away.
Take, for instance, San Francisco's only individual donors to the endlessly embarrassing Republican Congressman George Santos.
Hedge fund manager Bill Duhamel and his wife, arts producer Kate Duhamel, donated a total of $11,600 to Santos’ successful 2022 campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. They each donated $2,900 to Santos last August and again in September.
“We are fiscally conservative, we worry about the size of the deficit and so we do lean Republican; but we have supported moderates from both parties,” the Duhamels wrote in an email to The Standard. “Mr. Santos should resign. We feel cheated, but surely not as cheated as the voters in his congressional district.”
The New York congressman was elected on a litany of lies about his background, the unraveling of which has become a national spectacle.
Recent allegations include his alleged embezzlement of $3,000 in GoFundMe proceeds meant for critical surgery for a disabled, homeless veteran’s service dog, which later died from a painful tumor.
The GoFundMe for the dog was arranged by Friends of Pets United, a purported charity set up by Santos that he leveraged in his runs for Congress in 2020 and 2022. No such organization is registered as a tax-exempt charity, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
That’s just one in a baffling array of yarns about Santos' personal background, academic and career credentials—as well as a steep and largely unexplained rise in personal wealth.
Santos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Among other bizarre claims, Santos said he was Jewish and the descendent of Holocaust survivors—only to later dub himself “Jew-ish” when called out.
Another was his illustrious, but nonexistent stint at Baruch College that included a star turn on the school’s volleyball team, where he claimed to have been instrumental in “slaying” both Harvard and Yale during a championship season.
In reality, not only did Santos not attend Baruch, but also its volleyball team never played Yale that season.
Further revelations about Santos are still uglier, and include connections to extreme right-wing groups and figures, and work for an alleged Ponzi scheme with connections to a Russian oligarch.
“We were advised by a friend that Mr. Santos was a moderate Republican—the son of immigrants—from the private sector—who focused primarily on economic issues,” said the Duhamels.
Bill Duhamel is a partner at Route One Investment Company, a fund management firm with an address at the Presidio. According to the investing guide Wallmine, Route One manages over $5 billion of assets for four client accounts.
Duhamel was one of a number of partners who peeled away from Tom Steyer’s Farallon Capital in 2010 to form Route One. Another was Jason Moment, also an active political donor who gave $50,000 to the campaign to reopen JFK Drive and the Great Highway to car traffic.
Both Duhamel and Moment were major contributors to Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, part of the more successful of two campaigns to gather signatures for the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
Meanwhile, Kate Duhamel has made a name for herself as a filmmaker and producer. She is currently director of CandyBomber Productions, which stages multimedia live concerts. Before that she was an independent filmmaker, making documentaries focused on dance.
Kate Duhamel’s work has been featured on a number of community media outlets, including KALW radio and Broke-Ass Stuart. She serves on the board of the SFJAZZ Center.
Both the Duhamels are Stanford graduates, having both attended the business school in the 1980s. Ms. Duhamel was elected to the Stanford Board of Trustees in 2020.
According to FEC filings, the Duhamels have donated to a large number of congressional and Senate campaigns, giving mostly but not all to Republican candidates.
These include the campaigns of Republicans like South Carolina Congressman Tim Scott, along with others such as New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer and Arizona independent Kyrsten Sinema.
Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected]