Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who is the subject of intense public scrutiny over his resume and finances and has faced bipartisan calls to resign, a source familiar with the charges confirmed to media outlets.
The charges remain under seal. Santos could appear in court as early as Wednesday, the source said.
The existence of the charges was first reported by CNN.
Prosecutors reportedly had been investigating Santos’s finances and campaign disclosure filings.
The congressman has been the target of multiple investigations after questions emerged about his resume, biography and finances. State and federal entities have either received formal complaints about or are said to be looking into the congressman. The House Ethics Committee has also opened an investigation into Santos.
A number of lawmakers have called on Santos to resign, including some from his own party. And in February, a group of Democrats unveiled an expulsion resolution to push Santos out of Congress.
On Tuesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — who stopped short of calling on Santos to resign — said he will deal with Santos’s situation as he has with previous lawmakers who have been indicted.
He specifically cited former-Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), who resigned from office in March 2022 after he was found guilty of three felonies for lying to the FBI about an illegal campaign contribution given to his 2016 campaign.
“We’ll just follow the same pattern we always have, right, if a person is indicted, they’re not on committees, they have the right to vote but they have to go to trial,” McCarthy told reporters during a press conference.
Santos stepped down from his committee assignments in January amid his swirling controversy.
“Just like we had a member, Fortenberry, he had the same ability, I removed him from committees but he was found guilty and I told him he needed to resign. That is my policies and principles on this and I’d follow the same pattern,” McCarthy added.
But other lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — re-upped their calls for Santos to resign following news of the charges.
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) wrote in a statement “I reiterate my call for George Santos to step down,” and Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), who sponsored an effort to expel Santos from Congress, similarly reiterated his call for the New York Republican to be removed.
“If the reports are accurate, it appears as if he has been now indicted based on campaign finance fraud, which means that he committed a crime in order to become a member of Congress,” Goldman said. “And this is altogether different than other members who have committed different crimes in the past. His crime got him here.”
Santos has been adamant throughout his tenure in Congress that he does not plan to resign from his seat. In February, he wrote on Twitter, “Let me be very clear, I’m not leaving, I’m not hiding and I am NOT backing down.” Last month, he announced that he was running for reelection next year.
The congressman’s office and Santos’s attorney did not immediately respond to a requests for comment.
The nature of the charges remains unclear, but prosecutors had reportedly been examining the source of the funding for Santos’s congressional campaign. The probes have reportedly, among other leads, included a yacht deal Santos helped broker and an alleged scheme to steal money from a GoFundMe fundraiser he set up for a veteran’s dying service dog.
While the specifics of the investigations into Santos largely remain unknown, the House Ethics Committee in March said it was looking into if Santos “engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office.”
Santos’s office at the time said the congressman was “fully cooperating.”
Santos was previously charged with criminal theft in 2017, but the case was later dropped.
Despite his controversies, Santos has been a key vote for Republicans throughout the 118th Congress. House Republicans have a slim majority over Democrats (222-213), making his vote crucial for helping the politically diverse GOP coalition pass legislation.
Post a Comment