George Santos under investigation by House Ethics committee

Scandal-plagued New York representative to be investigated over 2022 campaign, failure to disclose information, and a sexual misconduct allegation, in addition to other issues

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 02 March 2023 21:06 GMT
George Santos turns on reporter after she asks him to apologise to voters for lying

Embattled Rep George Santos is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

In a statement, the panel said that an “Investigative Subcommittee” will determine whether the freshman Long Island, New York, congressman may have “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”.

Ohio Republican Representative David Joyce will chair the subcommittee and Pennsylvania Democrat Susan Wild will be the ranking member. John Rutherford, Republican of Florida, and Glenn Ivey, Democrat of Maryland, will also serve on the panel.

The committee noted that “the mere fact of establishing an Investigative Subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred”.

His official account tweeted that “the House Committee on Ethics has opened an investigation, and Congressman George Santos is fully cooperating. There will be no further comment made at this time”.

On 6 September 2022, before his election to Congress, the local Long Island paper The North Shore Leader, reported that he had “finally filed his Personal Financial Disclosure Report on September 6th - 20 months late - and he is claiming an inexplicable rise in his alleged net worth to $11 million”.

“Two years ago, in 2020, Santos’ personal financial disclosures claimed that he had no assets over $5,000 - no bank accounts, no stock accounts, no real property. A net worth barely above ‘zero’,” the paper added.

On 19 December of last year, The New York Times published an expose revealing the litany of lies Mr Santos was guilty of regarding his background, calling his claims “largely fiction”.

The evenly split ethics panel and its ten members voted unanimously to create the subcommittee after it was requested by two New York Democrats in January, and several Republicans have publically supported a probe being launched.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, has previously referred to an ethics investigation when asked about Mr Santos’ future in the chamber.

A number of other GOP House members and local Republican officeholders in New York have told Mr Santos to resign, but Mr McCarthy, holding just a slim majority in the House, has refrained from seeking Santos’ ouster.

But Mr McCarthy has said that the House would “take action” if the Ethics Committee determines it to be necessary.

Mr Santos is also being investigated by prosecutors on the local and federal levels in addition to the Federal Election Commission, according to The New York Times.

After being appointed to two committees, Mr Santos later stepped down from both at the instruction of House GOP leaders.

“We’re not allowing him to be on committees,” Mr McCarthy said earlier this year. He added that they “had a conversation and we decided it’s best at this moment,” The Times reported.

Critics of the ethics panel say that at times it moves too slowly and the timeline of the Santos investigation is yet to be determined.

Members often prefer to have fellow members resign or decline to run for reelection instead of punishing their fellow representatives, The Times notes.

If found to have crossed the line, Mr Santos could face fines, a recommendation from the panel that the full House votes to censure him, or a recommendation that he be removed from the chamber – which would need to reach a two-thirds majority of the House.

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