Representative George Santos, who is already being scrutinized by prosecutors, received a bipartisan reprimand on Thursday from a group of his House colleagues who unanimously called for their own investigation into his outrageous campaign fabrications.
The House ethics committee, consisting of 10 members, has launched an inquiry into Santos to determine if he violated the law during his campaign, had any involvement with a financial services firm, failed to disclose pertinent information to Congress, or engaged in sexual misconduct with a job applicant.
After a complaint was filed against Santos by two Democratic New York congressmen seven weeks ago, the committee voted to initiate the investigation on Tuesday.
A four-member investigative subcommittee, chaired by Ohio Republican Rep. David Joyce, with Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Susan Wild serving as the ranking member, has been appointed to conduct the investigation, according to the ethics committee.
“The committee notes that the mere fact of establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred,” the ethics panel said in a statement. “No other public comment will be made on this matter.”
In January, two New York Democrats, Reps. Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman, wrote a letter to the committee expressing concern over the inadequate and confusing financial disclosure reports filed by Rep. George Santos, and urged the committee to conduct a thorough investigation.
Last month, journalist Derek Myers filed a complaint with the committee accusing Santos of sexually harassing him. Myers claimed that Santos touched his groin on January 25, two days after Myers had accepted a job working for the congressman. Myers alleged that his job offer was revoked on February 1 as a result of this incident.
On Thursday, Myers wrote on Twitter that he has “strong” evidence that “will be disclosed to the committee if they call upon me.”
Santos’ office said in a statement that it was “fully cooperating” with the probe. “There will be no further comment made at this time,” said the statement.
Santos, aged 34, ran for Congress on Long Island last year and created a fictitious resume that included false information about his education, religion, family background, work experience, and property ownership, which misled voters.
Although he has admitted to some of his falsehoods, he denies being a criminal or a fraud and characterizes his lies as embellishments to his biography. Several American prosecutors’ offices are investigating him, and a Brazilian prosecutor’s office has reopened an old criminal case against him this winter.
Torres and Goldman welcomed the start of the House investigation as a move toward holding Santos accountable for his numerous misrepresentations.
“Rep. Santos, by his own admission, is a terrible liar who’s done a great disservice to the people of his district and whose presence in Congress continues to represent a grave threat and danger to our democracy,” Torres said in a statement. “I am hopeful the Ethics Committee will move swiftly.”
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a Long Island Republican whose district neighbors Santos’ district, also issued a statement praising the move by the ethics panel, declaring that all “opportunities to hold George Santos accountable for his many horrific deceptions are welcome developments.”
“Santos’s continued presence in the House of Representatives is a stain on the institution, and he should resign immediately or be expelled from Congress,” D’Esposito added.
The response of House GOP leaders to the new inquiry remains unclear, as they have been careful in dealing with Santos due to his involvement in Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s narrow election as speaker.
A spokesperson for McCarthy, a Republican from California, did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday. Santos has spent two months on Capitol Hill and has not shown any indication that he might step down.
He has even interacted playfully with reporters and introduced his own bill on Tuesday, which is a first for him. Recently, he co-sponsored a bill that seeks to designate the AR-15-style assault rifle as the national gun.
“I’m still the most productive freshman member of Congress from Long Island,” Santos told WNYW-TV in an interview published Wednesday.
The House inquiry announcement highlights the likelihood that Santos’ days as Congress’ most notorious member may be limited.
During a press conference in January, McCarthy promised to take action against Santos if the House ethics committee uncovers any violations of the law.
“Then,” McCarthy said, “we will remove him.”