Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) announced on Nov. 16 that he wouldn’t run for reelection, less than an hour after the House Ethics Committee released its report finding that there was “substantial evidence” that Mr. Santos had violated federal law.
“I will remain steadfast in fighting for my rights and for defending my name in the face of adversity. I am humbled yet again and reminded that I am human and I have flaws, but I will not stand by as I am stoned by those who have flaws themselves,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
“I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed. I will however NOT be seeking reelection for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.”
The bipartisan committee report found that there was evidence that Mr. Santos knowingly violated a number of criminal and ethical statutes.
He has been accused of a number of crimes, including charges of multiple frauds and conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, as well as making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission.
The report refrains from advocating for Mr. Santos’s expulsion or implementing additional disciplinary measures, however, it stated that the committee would refer the evidence found to the Department of Justice.
The evidence reportedly supports claims that he “knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes; engaged in fraudulent conduct, … and engaged in knowing and willful violations of the Ethics in Government Act.”
According to the report, the committee compiled a “voluminous” record, with more than 170,000 pages of documents and testimonies from dozens of witnesses to offer insight into the case.
Included in its report was the assertion that Mr. Santos “continues to flout his statutory financial disclosure obligations and has failed to correct countless errors and omissions in his past FD Statements, despite being repeatedly reminded by the ISC and the Committee of his requirement to do so.”
The Ethics Committee also found it to be “particularly troubling” that, in its opinion, the congressman engaged in a “lack of candor during the investigation itself,” and attempted to blame others for much of the misconduct found by the committee.
Mr. Santos has pleaded not guilty to a total of 23 federal charges related to multiple alleged frauds, including unauthorized use of campaign supporters’ credit cards for tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases.
With the release of the report, the congressman is expected to face another effort to expel him from Congress.
Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) spoke out to call for Mr. Santos’s resignation, saying in a post on X: “The Ethics Committee has completed their investigation of Rep. Santos & the report is thorough & damning. His conduct was illegal & unacceptable & Americans deserve better from their representatives.
“He should resign today. If he refuses, I will vote to remove him from Congress.”
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) also called on his fellow lawmakers to take action in a post on social media, saying that Mr. Santos “should end this farce and resign immediately. If he refuses, he must be removed from Congress. His conduct is not only unbecoming and embarrassing, it is criminal. He is unfit to serve and should resign today.”
In November, the House voted down a Republican-led effort to remove him from office, in a 179–213 vote. A two-thirds majority would have been needed for the measure to pass.
The resolution was backed by several other New York Republicans who felt that Mr. Santos’s admitted dishonesty, combined with the accusations against him, made him unfit to serve as a U.S. representative.
Among those congressmen was Mr. Lawler, who rose to defend the measure on the floor.
“You don’t expel a member for being a jerk. You don’t expel a member for something they said. You expel a member for their conduct,” he said. “The conduct of Mr. Santos has been embarrassing and unbecoming and unfit for public office.”
At the time, some Republicans rejected the expulsion effort, saying they were waiting for the result of the Ethics Committee probe.
“That’s the due process that Santos has,” Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.), who sits on the Ethics Committee, told The Epoch Times at the time. “So I think a lot of people are like, ‘Well, let’s just wait till we get the report and then make a decision.'”
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who voted against the expulsion attempt in November, argued that it was too early to make the move given the pending criminal case.
“Due process and the courts matter, so leave it to the courts,” he told reporters a the time.
In May, the House voted to refer a Democrat-led expulsion resolution to the Ethics Committee.
The office of Mr. Santos didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
Samantha Flom and Joseph Lord contributed to this report.