News (USA)

George Santos to step down from committee assignments

George Santos
George Santos Photo: George Santos campaign website

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is temporarily stepping down from his committee assignments. The controversial openly gay freshman congressman informed House Republicans of the decision on Tuesday amid reports of an active criminal investigation into his campaign finances.

Despite admitting to fabricating much of his biography ahead of his election in November, House Republicans seated Santos on the House Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

But The Washington Post reports that during a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans, Santos said that he is stepping down because “he’s a distraction.”

“I think you should talk to leadership if you want details pertaining to committees,” Santos told reporters Tuesday.

Santos reportedly met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. McCarthy has continued to back Santos, despite calls from House Republicans for Santos to resign. But McCarthy said last week that if Santos is found to have broken the law “we will remove him.”

“It took me by surprise but it was probably the right decision,” House Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams (R-TX) said of Santos’s announcement.

“Without the ethics investigation being complete, I think it’s the right decision,” said Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY). Lawler is one of several House Republicans who have called for Santos’s resignation.

Earlier this month, House Democrats Ritchie Torres (NY) and Daniel Goldman (NY) hand delivered a six-page complaint to the House Ethics Committee calling Santos’s financial disclosure reports “sparse and perplexing” and noting that “his own public statements have contradicted some information included in the 2022 financial disclosure and confirmed that the 2022 financial disclosure failed to disclose other required information.”

A separate ethics complaint filed earlier this month asked the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to investigate how Santos – who declared an income of $55,000 in 2020 – was able to give a personal loan of $705,000 to his campaign in 2022.

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had asked the FEC to hold off on any enforcement actions against Santos. Experts said the request was an indication that the DOJ had opened “an active criminal investigation” into the congressman’s campaign finances.

A recent Newsday-Siena College poll found that 78 percent of voters in Santos’s district think he should resign, including 71 percent of Republicans. Six Republican congresspeople from New York and the Nassau County Republican Party have also called on him to resign.

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