George Santos defiant in face of New York Republicans calling on him to resign

Mr Santos is refusing to quit despite calls for his resignation from his own party

Andrew Feinberg,John Bowden
Wednesday 11 January 2023 19:13 GMT
Long Island Republicans call on George Santos to resign from Congress

Representative George Santos is refusing to heed calls for his resignation from top figures in the Nassau County Republican Party who have demanded he step down from Congress just days after he was sworn in to represent New York’s third Congressional District.

Asked whether he would resign in light of the numerous scandals surrounding him, he told ABC News on Wednesday: “I will not”.

In a tweet posted later that day, he doubled down on his recalcitrance, writing that he “was elected to serve the people of [the third Congressional District] not the party [and] politicians”.

“I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living,” he said, adding that he “will NOT resign”.

Mr Santos’ defiance came as leaders from his community called on him to relinquish his seat in the House at a press conference at the Nassau County GOP headquarters.

Nassau County Republican Party chairman Joseph Cairo said the campaign Mr Santos waged to replace Democrat Tom Suozzi in last year’s midterm election had been “a campaign of lies, deceit and fabrication” that had “deceived the voters” of the wealthy district on Long Island’s north shore.

“He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Party, nor should he serve in public service or as an elected official. He’s disgraced the House of Representatives and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople,” said Mr Cairo, who announced that he was calling for Mr Santos’ “immediate resignation”.

Mr Santos, a first-term representative who previously ran unsuccessfully for the same congressional seat in 2020, has come under fire in the weeks since a New York Times report revealed that he appeared to have made up aspects of his biography out of whole cloth.

His lies began with his high school years, during which he claimed to have attended the prestigious Horace Mann school in New York. School officials have said they have no record of him.

He also claimed to have graduated from Baruch College, which also had no record of him at all. Nor did two banks where he claimed to have held jobs, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, have any record of him working for them at any point.

Mr Santos also drew ire from Jewish groups for claiming that he was of Jewish descent and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors.

The Republican Jewish Coalition says that he represented himself to them as Jewish, and he has made public comments to that effect in interviews. Then there was the position paper uncovered by Axios in which he simply refers to himself as an “American Jew”, removing all doubt as to what he said. But geneologists contacted by the Jewish news outlet The Forward said that there was no evidence to prove his other past claims on the issue; namely, that his grandparents on his mother’s side escaped the Holocaust. They were born in Brazil.

Mr Cairo was followed by North Hempstead town supervisor Jen DeSena, who said she, too, was calling on him to resign because his lies “are too numerous to coiunt”.

She added that her “true concern” is for 3rd Congressional District residents because he “betrayed the public's trust and given insincere, glib and insulting answers when asked legitimate questions about his finances and his background”.

“By all accounts, he seems incapable and unwilling to take full responsibility for his lies and fabrications. Beyond all that, he is under local, state and federal investigations as serious questions have arisen about his campaign finances. There's absolutely no way Mr. Santos can be an effective member of congress of Congress and represent the people who elected him. The longer he remains in office, the longer the residents of the Third Congressional District will suffer,” she said.

Even one of Mr Santos’ House colleagues, Representative Anthony D’Esposito, weighed in on a remote feed from Washington, telling reporters at the press conference that Mr Santos should quit the House.

“I join with my colleagues in saying that George Santos does not have the ability to serve here in the House of Representatives, and should resign,” he said.

The Nassau County supervisor, Bruce Blakeman, said Mr Santos “does not deserve” the right to serve in Congress because he is a “conman” and a “stain on the third congressional district”.

Mr Blakeman said Mr Santos’ claim to be descended from Holocaust survivors was “really tragic” because many actual survivors live in Nassau County.

“They're children of the Holocaust, grandchildren of the Holocaust, great grandchildren. These are people whose families were decimated, and in many instances wiped out. We're talking about whole families that were shot to death that were gassed to death that were starved to death. And for him to make up this story that his parents were Holocaust survivors is beyond the pale,” he said.

Mr Blakeman added that he has ordered his staff to direct any federal constituent matters to Mr D’Esposito’s office.

“My office will have no interaction with George Santos or his staff until he resigns,” he said.

The embattled New York representative is also under pressure from multiple investigations into his conduct, including one being led by Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly, who in a 28 December statement said Mr Santos’ “numerous fabrications and inconsistencies” were “nothing short of stunning”.

“The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress," she said. "No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it”.

The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Centre has also asked the Federal Election Commission to probe the sources of funds he used to loan his campaign $705,000 during the 2022 election.

“The concealed true source behind $705,000 in contributions to Santos's campaign could be a corporation or foreign national — both of which are categorically barred from contributing to federal candidates,” the watchdog group said in its’ complaint.

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