George Santos’ Fate at Congressional Crossroads
House Ethics Chairman Michael Guest proposed a resolution to expel New York GOP Representative George Santos from Congress on Friday. This move comes in response to the Ethics Committee’s release of a detrimental report on their investigation into Santos just a day prior.
The congressional fate of GOP Rep. George Santos of New York lies in question after the House Ethics Committee found substantial evidence of fraudulent and illicit activities pertaining to his campaign activities. Lawmakers are anticipated to consider the proposition towards the close of the month.
The resolution led by Michael Guest, the Republican congressman from Mississippi and head of the Ethics Committee, paves the way for a crucial vote upon lawmakers’ return from the Thanksgiving holiday. Further, this vote has the potential to result in Rep. Santos becoming the sixth representative in the chamber’s history to be expelled.
Congressman Guest described an overflow of evidence that is “more than sufficient to warrant punishment, and the most appropriate punishment is expulsion,” as written in a press release on November 17th. He stated, “Given the intense public scrutiny surrounding Representative Santos and the ongoing activity at the DOJ, including indictments, the Ethics Committee decided to finish its work without going through a lengthier process that provides for the Committee to make a recommendation of punishment to the House.”
The 35-year-old New York representative has already survived two efforts to oust him from his congressional seat after revelations of his self-fabricated life story and illicit activities were exposed. At the time, Representative Santos openly admitted to embellishing or providing inaccurate information regarding specific details about his background, though he asserted that he did not violate any laws. A superseding indictment that totals 23 counts was filed last month in the Eastern District Court of New York, which outlined a multitude of fraudulent offenses such as falsifying records, identity theft, wire fraud, money laundering, and more.
Over the course of their investigation, the ISC met nine times and compiled evidence from 172,000 pages of documents and testimony from dozens of witnesses, financial statements, contemporaneous communications, and other materials. Overall, evidence pointed to a series of lavish spending habits not related to his campaign and a continuation of falsified reports and statements.
The lengthy report declared George Santos “knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission.” Additionally, they “used campaign funds for personal purposes,” such as Botox and travel. In one case, “taxi and hotel charges” were discovered on the campaign credit card “that were incurred in Las Vegas in December 2021, during a time when Representative Santos had told his campaign staff that he was on his honeymoon and there were no corresponding campaign events on his calendar.”
According to the report, ISC advised Rep. Santos of his right to respond to allegations, to which his counsel responded, “Representative Santos declines to voluntarily appear to be interviewed by the Committee”.
Rep. Santos responded to the investigation through a tweet stating, “It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk. Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves.”
A History of Deception
Back in December 2021, members of Santos’ own campaign team presented him with a 141-page “Vulnerability Report,” which raised a number of issues regarding his background as well as his personal and campaign disclosures. Some of these included:
“No evidence to support claims to have graduated with an MBA from New York University and Bachelor of Economics and Finance from Baruch College; Questions regarding how he loaned his 2020 campaign over $80,000 when his personal financial disclosure did not show any assets and only a $55,000 salary; Questions regarding his failure to report salary from Harbor City Capital Management (which was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)); and His failure to file a 2021 FD Statement”.
As a result of the vulnerability report, Representative Santos faced pressure from his campaign staff to withdraw from the race. Despite their urging, he declined to step down, leading to the resignation of three staffers who chose to leave his campaign altogether.
On May 10, 2023, Rep Santos was charged with various fraud-related crimes in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). Most recently, a superseding indictment was filed last month on October 10, which brought additional fraud charges against Santos. Representative Santos has pleaded not guilty to all the criminal charges.