Republican Representative George Santos announced that he will not seek re-election to the House next year, following the release of the Ethics Committee on Thursday a long-awaited report, which concluded that there is “substantial evidence” that the New York congress used campaign funds for the purposes.
The committee said it found “uncharged and illegal conduct” by Santos that violates pending criminal charges, and will refer the allegations to the Department of Justice for further investigation.
Santos committed “knowing and willful violations” of financial disclosure statements filed with the House, according to the panel, and “knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission.”
The committee concluded that Santos “wanted to exploit every aspect of his entry into the House by fraud for his own financial gain.”
After the release of this report, Santos announced that he would not be re-elected, although he continued to defy and criticize the investigation, calling it a “biased report.”
“It is a disgusting political insult that shows how deeply our federal government has sunk. Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves,” Santos wrote in X. He continued, “However, I will NOT seek re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than this. being under fire from the press all the time.”
The New York Republican later said he would hold a press conference outside the Capitol on Nov. 30 — the week Congress returns from Thanksgiving break, and possibly after the House votes on whether to impeach him. Impeachment is extremely rare and requires a three-thirds majority vote in the House to pass. Although a resolution to oust Santos failed earlier this month despite receiving some Republican votes, supporters said they believe the report will be enough to convince more members to support the effort.
“Running for office has never been a dream or a goal, but when the opportunity to do so came I felt it was time to serve my country,” Santos said in a post on X Thursday evening. “When I look back today, I know one thing, politics is dirty, dirty from the bottom up.”
The panel said the congressman’s behavior should be “reprehensible by the public, degrades the dignity of the office, and brings great disrepute to the House.”
The team also said that Santos was “not fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Santos declined a voluntary interview and did not submit a written response to the Ethics panel’s allegations.
But the committee decided not to issue a subpoena to Santos because he may have exercised his Fifth Amendment right and that his testimony “would have been less probative given his accepted grooming practice.”
The report is the latest development for the New York Republican, who has separately pleaded not guilty to 23 charges, including allegations of fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, misusing campaign funds and lying about his finances in House disclosure reports.
Spokesman Mike Johnson said in a statement that the report has “very troubling results.” The statement did not say Santos was resigning, but said Johnson is urging lawmakers, including Santos, “to consider the best interests of the institution as this matter is resolved.”
“The Speaker has reviewed the report and the findings are very troubling,” said Raj Shah, the Speaker’s deputy chief of staff for communications, in a statement. “As members from both parties, members of the Ethics Committee and Representative Santos return to Congress after the Thanksgiving break, Speaker Johnson encourages all stakeholders to consider the best interests of the agency as this matter is resolved.”
House Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest, Republican of Mississippi, will make a motion to fire Santos as soon as Friday during a pro forma session, a source familiar with the matter told CNN, which will include action on the matter when Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess. . The reason here is that having a guest make a proposal will be seen as less political and give other members more privacy to support it, according to sources involved in the programs.
Although the committee did not include a disciplinary recommendation in its report because that would have taken more time, the fact that the chairman made the recommendation will send a strong signal to the rest of the Republican convention – and is a sign of this impeachment effort. he can succeed in this.
Two other members of the Ethics Committee also publicly supported the dismissal of Santos on Thursday morning.
Rep. Susan Wild, the top Democrat on the panel, has voted in favor of previous impeachment efforts but says she is no longer bound to remain neutral now that their investigative work is over.
And Rep. Andrew Garbarino, a New York Republican and member of the committee who has so far supported the expulsion, also says he will now support it.
“There is tangible evidence that he used his position for his own benefit. He is not fit for public office,” said Garbarino in a statement.
In early November, a Republican-led effort to impeach Santos failed in the House. A number of members of the legislature have expressed concern about the issue of expelling a member who is facing a pending case and no criminal charge. Before the vote, Santos defended his right to be “presumed innocent.”
In May, the House voted to refer the Democrat-led resolution to impeach Santos to the Ethics Committee, a move that allowed Republicans to avoid focusing on the contentious question of the impeachment.
Santos has long faced calls for his impeachment from both Republicans and Democrats because of his legal issues and extensive and well-documented record of lies and lies about his resume and biography. Those calls are likely to increase significantly after the report.
In an interview with CNN’s Manu Raju earlier this month, Santos admitted to mistakes in his handling of key issues raised in the charges against him as he defended himself vigorously. He blamed “stupidity” and “insecurity” for his various talents, but also downplayed the importance of those beliefs and said his people didn’t vote for him based on his history.
The report shows evidence of campaign funds being used for personal travel and cosmetics
The Ethics Committee has provided extensive evidence showing that Santos used campaign funds for his own lavish personal use as he racked up huge travel expenses for flights, hotels, Uber and meals that appear to have no political or campaign purpose.
In December 2021, there were charges for taxis and hotels from Las Vegas on the campaign’s credit card, even though that was when Santos told his campaign staff he was on vacation and there were no campaign events on his calendar.
The FEC report listed the July 7, 2022, $3,332.81 in Airbnb expenses as “hotel accommodations,” when the campaign calendar revealed Santos was “absent (at) the Hampton’s for the weekend.”
There were also spa services and cosmetics that didn’t seem to have a campaign purpose, such as a $1,400 Virtual Skin Spa in Jericho, New York, in July 2022.
There was a $1,500 campaign debit card purchase from Mirza Aesthetics, which was not reported to the FEC and marked as “Botox” on the expense spreadsheets. The $1,400 payment to Virtual Skin Spa was a campaign debit card purchase that was also described as “Botox” in the spreadsheets.
The Ethics team said there is no concrete evidence to support the allegations of sexual misconduct against Santos.
The allegation that Santos may have engaged in sexual misconduct was brought by a candidate for a job in his congressional office, referred to in the report as witness 10. The investigative team was “unable to corroborate these allegations,” according to the report.
Witness 10 was asked to come to the Santos congressman’s office on January 25, 2023, to meet with the team. Witness 10 returned to the office several times, but was told to wait until the Department of Labor had finished hiring him and he could be properly installed. On February 1, the request was withdrawn “due to the office’s concerns about the wiretapping charges against him.”
Two days later, the person filed a complaint with the House Ethics committee alleging that Santos “sexually assaulted her while they were alone in the Congressional office on January 25, 2023, ‘looking at letters from constituents.’ ”
The investigators said in the report that they could not prove this claim.
The report also stated that testimony from other witnesses the team spoke to contradicted what the person said about reviewing the email and being alone with Santos.
Additionally, the committee expressed concern about the person’s credibility, saying there were inconsistencies in witness 10’s testimony and that the person admitted to contacting the FBI about the allegations in order to be paid for information about Santos.