Republican Rep. George Santos (New York) is officially under investigation by House officials, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) confirmed on Tuesday.
McCarthy told reporters that Santos is currently being probed by the House Ethics Committee. It’s unclear what the focus of the investigation is, but it could be related to his questionable campaign finance practices — which Democrats and government watchdogs have highlighted in complaints filed against the lawmaker — or the fact that Santos lied to voters about large swaths of his life history.
“Ethics is moving through, and if ethics finds something, we’ll take action,” McCarthy said in response to a question about calls for Santos to resign, per CNN. “Right now, we’re not allowing him to be on committees from the standpoint of the questions that have arisen.”
The House speaker’s latter statement is ironic, considering that Santos stepped down voluntarily, according to reports of the situation. In fact, ever since Santos’s lies were uncovered, McCarthy has been adamant that it isn’t his role — as the person in charge of the House — to discipline the lawmaker, despite the fact that McCarthy has now punished three Democratic lawmakers for purely political reasons.
It’s unclear what action McCarthy will take, if any, if the ethics investigators find wrongdoing. Committees can generally recommend actions, and the Ethics Committee does have subpoena power, but it can’t do much in terms of formally disciplining a representative.
There has been a consistent chorus of voices, however, calling for Santos’s resignation, including a group of several dozen of his constituents who traveled to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday calling for him to resign.
“We know George Santos is not going to resign on his own. He’s making more money in Congress than he’s ever legitimately made before,” said Rep. Dan Goldman (D-New York) in a press conference with the constituent group outside of the Capitol. “What’s his incentive to resign? It’s going to have to come from the top.”
Despite Santos’s staunch refusal to resign, nearly 80 percent of his constituents want him to step down, recent polling found, while only 13 percent say they want him to stay in office.
Santos is already under investigation by multiple other entities, including the FBI, which is investigating him for allegedly running a GoFundMe scheme in which he reportedly pledged to raise money for the surgery of a veteran’s terminally ill dog but ultimately took the money for himself, according to Politico.
Brazilian authorities and New York prosecutors are also probing Santos, the former for a crime he allegedly committed in 2008 around Rio de Janeiro, and the latter for his rampant lies on the campaign trail. The Federal Election Commission, meanwhile, has sent an unusual number of letters to the Santos campaign raising questions about their financial practices.
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