House Ethics panel says George Santos likely committed fraud

U.S. Rep. George Santos leaves the federal courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y., Wednesday, May 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

By Christian Wade | The Center Square contributor

Embattled New York Congressman George Santos likely committed campaign fraud and other ethical violations, according to a scathing report by a House Ethics subcommittee.

The panel issued a statement on Thursday saying its investigation has determined that there is “substantial evidence” that the Republican filed “false or incomplete reports” with the Federal Election Commission, used campaign funds for personal purposes and engaged in fraudulent conduct violating House rules. 

“Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” the subcommittee said in its report to the full House Ethics Committee, released Thursday morning.

It added that Santos’ conduct “warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought severe discredit upon the House.” 

The committee unanimously voted to refer the evidence of Santos’ alleged violations to the Justice Department, the statement said. However, it did not make recommendations about punishment for Santos.

Despite that, the report is expected to add to calls to remove Santos from Congress and possibly sway fellow Republicans reluctant to support his expulsion. So far, he has survived two previous expulsion votes led by fellow New York Republicans. 

“As expected, this report confirms what we knew: George Santos is a fraud, committed fraud & should not serve in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Mark Molinaro, R-N.Y., said in a statement on social media on Thursday. “This is why I called for his resignation, voted for his expulsion & believe he needs to be removed from Congress.”

The House ethics probe follows Santos’ federal indictment on 23 counts of fraud, including money laundering and identity theft.

Federal prosecutors in New York allege that Santos and his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, submitted false financial reports to the Federal Election Commission, inflating his fundraising numbers. They also allege he fraudulently collected over $24,000 in unemployment insurance benefits.

A previous indictment filed in May against Santos charged him with embezzling money from his campaign and lying to Congress about his income, among other allegations. 

He has admitted to faking his resume and lying about his educational background but argues that he hasn’t broken the law or crossed any ethical lines.   

Santos also faces a Federal Elections Commission complaint alleging his campaign engaged in a “straw donor scheme” to conceal the sources of a $705,000 personal loan to his campaign. 

In a rambling statement, Santos criticized the ethics report and accused the subcommittee’s members of going to “extraordinary lengths to smear myself and my legal team” during its investigation. He also said he won’t seek reelection next year. 

“It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk,” he posted on X. “Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves.”

Santos ended his statement by saying he will not seek reelection in 2024, saying his family “deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.”

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.