Republican Rep. George Santos of New York, whose brief tenure in Congress has been dominated by scandal, was arrested by federal authorities Wednesday on a slew of criminal charges including money laundering, wire fraud, theft of public funds, and lying to Congress.
The 13-count indictment, unsealed by the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday, accuses Santos of masterminding “a scheme to defraud supporters of his candidacy for the House and to obtain money from them by fraudulently inducing supporters to contribute funds” to a company “under the false pretense that the money would be used to support [Santos’] candidacy.”
The indictment alleges that Santos actually spent the money on personal expenses such as “luxury designer clothing and credit card payments.”
Santos was also charged for fraudulently obtaining more than $24,000 in unemployment benefits.
In response to the news of Santos’ arrest, the progressive advocacy group Stand Up America said the New York Republican “must resign or face expulsion.”
“George Santos should resign immediately,” said Christina Harvey, the group’s executive director. “He lied to voters about nearly every aspect of his life, and now we know that he broke the law numerous times and stole from the American people by falsely claiming employment benefits that should have gone to struggling New Yorkers. Santos’ constituents deserve real representation in Congress, not a morally bankrupt and now indicted fraud.”
“If Santos refuses to step down, Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans must remove him from office,” Harvey added. “Continuing to shield Santos as a member of the slim Republican majority would be a betrayal of McCarthy’s oath of office and the ultimate act of cowardice by the Republicans who now control the House.”
The House GOP leadership has yet to publicly demand Santos’ resignation, though some rank-and-file Republicans have said they would support the New York congressman’s removal.
Santos, who has been facing calls to resign since he admitted to lying about his background following his election to Congress late last year, is expected to appear in federal court in New York later Wednesday.
“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations,” Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself.”
“He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives,” Peace continued. “My office and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively root out corruption and self-dealing from our community’s public institutions and hold public officials accountable to the constituents who elected them.”
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