WASHINGTON — Embattled Rep. George Santos said Thursday he will not seek reelection in 2024 after the House Ethics Committee released a scathing report that concluded there is “substantial evidence” the New York Republican “violated federal criminal laws,” including using campaign funds for personal purposes and filing false campaign reports.
“I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed. I will however NOT be seeking re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time,” Santos said in a statement on the social media site X.
In its wide-ranging 56-page report, the Ethics subcommittee tasked with investigating Santos found “a complex web of unlawful activity involving Representative Santos’ campaign, personal, and business finances. Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.”
“He blatantly stole from his campaign. He deceived donors into providing what they thought were contributions to his campaign but were in fact payments for his personal benefit. He reported fictitious loans to his political committees to induce donors and party committees to make further contributions to his campaign—and then diverted more campaign money to himself as purported ‘repayments’ of those fictitious loans,” the report continues.
Santos “used his connections to high-value donors and other political campaigns” to enrich himself, the report contends. “And he sustained all of this through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience,” it says.
The Ethics Committee said it is referring its findings, including “uncharged” conduct, to the Justice Department. It did not make a recommendation to the House.
The DOJ has already charged Santos on multiple federal counts, including identity theft, money laundering and theft of public funds. He is set to go on trial in September and has pleaded not guilty.
Santos has rejected calls for his resignation. “I will remain steadfast in fighting for my rights and for defending my name in the face of adversity,” he said on X Thursday. “I am humbled yet again and reminded that I am human and I have flaws, but I will not stand by as I am stoned by those who have flaws themselves.”
The Ethics Committee said that Santos did not cooperate with the probe, and only provided limited responses that included “misstatements” and “falsehoods.”
Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., said on Thursday that he plans to again submit a privileged resolution to expel Santos from Congress when the House returns to Washington on Nov. 28.
Garcia, who introduced a similar resolution earlier this year, said in a statement that the Ethics report makes it “crystal clear that the GOP’s decision to wait 9 months to act was not only irresponsible, but dangerous,” adding that Santos “has no place in Congress.”
The House will be forced to act on Garcia’s resolution because it’s privileged. Santos easily survived another effort to expel him earlier this month; 179 members voted in favor of expulsion, 213 against and 19 voted present. A high threshold — two-thirds of lawmakers — is needed for expulsion.
Santos’ fellow New York Republicans, many of them moderates who face tough reelection bids next year, led the charge to expel him. On Thursday, they reiterated their calls for him to resign or be expelled.
“George Santos should end this farce and resign immediately,” said Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., who is in his first term, like Santos. “If he refuses, he must be removed from Congress. His conduct is not only unbecoming and embarrassing, it is criminal.”
The Ethics report “is in alignment with my long held belief that this fraudster has no place serving in the People’s House,” added Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, R-N.Y., “and I once again call on my colleagues to join me in advocating for George Santos/ expulsion from Congress.”
Ethics investigators said they opted not to subpoena Santos, determining that doing so could have delayed their probe and that Santos’ testimony would have “low evidentiary value given his admitted practice of embellishment.”
Led by Reps. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, and Susan Wild, D-Pa., the subcommittee probing Santos met nine times, authorized 37 subpoenas and 43 voluntary requests for information, and received over 172,000 pages of documents.