Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

George Santos Gets Ripped By House Ethics Committee

By Steven Ellison, Esq. | Last updated on

It looks like the chickens are coming home to roost. The House Committee on Ethics released its report on its investigation into New York Republican Representative and serial liar George Santos. And it's a doozy. Name a crime you think a politician might be accused of and, lo and behold, it's in the committee's report. Violations of house ethics rules, fraudulent campaign finance disclosures, misuse and outright theft of campaign funds — the list goes on.

Republicans currently hold the House by a razor-thin majority. Most haven't said much about the Santos controversy, generally towing the party line with a “let's wait and see what the investigation reveals" approach. But now, following the public disclosure of the damning report, a growing number are publicly condemning him and calling for his resignation. To hustle him out the door, House Chair of the Committee on Ethics Michael Guest has introduced a resolution to expel Santos from Congress.

Let's go over the ethics committee report and discuss where things go from here.

House Investigative Subcommittee Investigation

In February 2023, following a flurry of reports in the media accusing Santos of all sorts of misconduct, the ethics committee empaneled an investigative subcommittee (ISC) to look into whether he had:

  • Engaged in unlawful activity in connection with his 2022 congressional campaign
  • Failed to make proper financial disclosures with the House and amend those that were inaccurate
  • Violated federal conflict of interest laws
  • Engaged in sexual misconduct toward a candidate for employment with his campaign

In May, the ISC expanded its investigation after the Department of Justice indicted Santos in federal court in New York, and expanded it once again after the DOJ filed a superseding indictment (he's up to 23 criminal counts for now).

ISC Findings

What the ISC found was both unprecedented and breathtaking. According to the ISC, the investigation “revealed a complex web of unlawful activity involving Representative Santos' campaign, personal, and business finances" that showed his intent “to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit." Finding “overwhelming evidence" of guilt, the ISC set out a litany of his offenses:

  • He shamelessly stole from his congressional campaign
  • He lied to donors about intending to use their donations for his campaign when he really planned on buying things for himself (the report specifies, among other things, Ferragamo luxury goods, Botox, and OnlyFans transactions)
  • He made fake loans to his campaign, deceived donors into donating more money, and then “paid himself back" with their donations
  • He used his connections to rich donors and other political campaigns to obtain money through “fraudulent or questionable business dealings"
  • He pulled this all off through a campaign of lies — to his donors, business partners, constituents, and staff — about his education, background, and experience.

That's a lot of bad behavior to digest. But call me old-fashioned, this writer thinks the lowest of Santos' lows was his trying to pin the blame for all of this on his former campaign treasurer. Truly slimy by most anyone's standards.

How Did Santos Respond to the Investigation?

The ISC gave Santos every opportunity to defend himself. He could have submitted a signed statement responding to the ethics complaint against him. He could have provided a written response to the ISC's request for information. The ISC asked him to voluntarily testify. He was invited to submit a written statement under oath.

Santos turned down all of these opportunities. In the meantime, he publicly assured reporters that he was fully cooperating with the investigation. Liar, Liar, pants on fire, indeed.

What Is Santos Facing in the House?

The ISC recommended that additional charges against Santos be referred to the DOJ for prosecution. The ethics committee accepted the recommendation. In addition to the committee's DOJ referral, the committee publicly condemned Santos for bringing shame upon the House.

And, as noted, the committee chair has introduced a resolution for expulsion. The House is expected to take it up after Thanksgiving.

Why Won't Santos Just Resign?

In a seemingly uncharacteristic moment of moral clarity, Santos announced that he wouldn't seek reelection. But he has refused calls for him to resign.

Why go through the shame and humiliation of being expelled? Only five members in the history of the House have been removed from office. Three were kicked out for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. Two others were expelled following criminal convictions. Why would Santos risk joining this infamous rogues' gallery?

Two reasons, most likely. First, he's rolling the dice, hoping that when all is said and done, Republicans won't risk their slim House majority by throwing him out. Second, Santos needs the money. He is deep in debt and is racking up some major legal bills. If he steps down, he loses his annual salary of $174,000 and his chance at a congressional pension.

What Happens if Santos Leaves the House?

If Santos were to resign or be removed from office, New York Governor Kathy Hochul would then schedule a special election for his seat. The local political parties would put up the candidates. It's hard to say how the special election would turn out; while President Biden won the district in 2020 by eight points, since then Republicans have dominated the district.

Whoever the winner turns out to be, folks in Santos' district will probably be happy if their next representative stays out of the limelight for a while.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard