Ethics Committee releases scathing report on George Santos, alleging 'complex web' of crime
The House Ethics Committee on Thursday issued a scathing report on embattled Rep. George Santos, following its monthslong investigation into the New York Republican's actions that have led to nearly two-dozen pending felony charges and repeated efforts to expel him from the House of Representatives.
Santos has pleaded not guilty and defended himself, insisting he will remain in office, but in the immediate wake of the ethics report, he said Thursday he will not seek reelection.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The committee said its investigation "revealed 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," the report states.
The report also found "substantial" evidence that Santos violated criminal laws, "some of which" are subject to pending charges. But it also alleges evidence of additional unlawful conduct, including regarding the information on federal filings.
"He deceived donors into providing what they thought were contributions to his campaign but were in fact payments for his personal benefit," the report states, repeating charges outlined against him by the Department of Justice in its indictment. "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. He used his connections to high value donors and other political campaigns to obtain additional funds for himself through fraudulent or otherwise questionable business dealings.
"And he sustained all of this through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience."
The Ethics Committee, however, does not make a formal recommendation to the House on a range of sanctions that could be coming for the freshman lawmaker, including expulsion -- a move his New York GOP colleagues aim to renew following the Thanksgiving break.
Santos declined to speak with the committee, with his attorney informing House investigators that "pursuant to my advice and the pending criminal allegations Representative Santos declines to voluntarily appear to be interviewed by the Committee." Santos also did not submit a written response to the allegations.
The subcommittee also considered subpoenaing Santos but ultimately decided against it "to avoid further delaying its investigation" and because Santos' lawyer had indicated he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
In a speech defending himself ahead of an expulsion vote in early November, which he survived, Santos said, "I'm fighting tooth and nail to clear my name in front of the entire world, Mr. Speaker. It hasn't been easy, but I'm fighting by God's grace."
In a lengthy post on X Thursday after the report was released, Santos fired back at the congressional investigators.
"If there was a single ounce of ETHICS in the “Ethics committee”, they would have not released this biased report. The Committee went to extraordinary lengths to smear myself and my legal team about me not being forthcoming (My legal bills suggest otherwise). It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk. Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves," he wrote.