WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 11: Representative George Santos (RN.Y.) walks to the House Republican Conference Chairman Candidate Forum held at the Longworth Building on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post, Getty Images)
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Rep. George Santos said Thursday that the damning House ethics report found “substantial evidence” that the embattled New York Republican committed election fraud and other violations. As a result, he said he would not seek re-election next year.
In a defiant post on social media, Santos wrote, “Until I am allowed to do so, I will continue to fulfill my mission of serving my constituents,” and denounced the report as a “disgusting political slur.”
“But I will not seek re-election for a second term in 2024 because my family has better rights than to be constantly shot at by the press,” the freshman congressman wrote to X.
The announcement came less than an hour after the release of a report from the investigative arm of the House Ethics Committee. The report found that Mr. Santos “blatantly stole from his campaign” and “sought to exploit every aspect of his candidacy for Congress for personal gain.” profit. “
These personal expenses included more than $4,000 in donations for purchases at luxury clothing store Hermès and small purchases on OnlyFans, an online cam streaming site known for its adult content.
The full Ethics Committee, led by Rep. Michael Guest, R-Mississippi, unanimously adopted the report and voted to refer its findings to the Department of Justice.
Mr. Guest plans to introduce a new resolution to expel Mr. Santos from Congress, the speaker’s chief of staff told CNBC late Thursday. Santos survived an attempt to oust him earlier this month after his bill failed to garner support from two-thirds of the House of Representatives.
A spokesperson for Mr. Santos’ office and Mr. Santos’ attorney Joe Murray did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
The scathing 56-page ethics report is just another blow to Mr. Santos, who already faces numerous theft and fraud charges in New York federal court.
The 35-year-old lawmaker, whose district covers parts of Queens and Nassau counties, has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging crimes including identity theft, filing false campaign finance reports and stealing unemployment benefits. There is.
On Tuesday, Mr. Santos’ former campaign fundraiser, Sam Miele, pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges after Mr. Miele impersonated former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff to solicit donations for Mr. Santos. Ta.
As part of his plea, Miele admitted to charging personal expenses to the credit cards of political donors.
Last month, Santos’ former campaign finance director, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty to charges of campaign finance fraud related to her work at Santos.
He has vowed not to resign despite sustained bipartisan criticism and repeated attempts to force him out of Congress.
The subcommittee’s investigation covered many of the alleged acts first disclosed in the federal indictment.
Mr. Santos “deceived donors into making what he thought were contributions to his campaign, but were actually payments for personal gain,” the report said.
Republican Congressman George Santos of New York arrives to vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mr. Santos also reported bogus loans to his political committee in order to induce donors and party committees to make further contributions to his campaign, and “then made payments under the guise of ‘repaying’ those fictitious loans.” He also diverted even more campaign funds to himself.”
He then used his political connections to obtain even more money “through fraudulent or other questionable business transactions,” the report said.
Santos carried out all of these schemes “through a continuous series of lies about his background and experience to voters, donors, and staff,” the report alleges.
The subcommittee charged him with failing to cooperate with investigators about how his campaign finances were managed and where his personal and political funds came from.
“Not only did Mr. Santos refuse to provide requested documents and voluntary interviews, but he also failed to address most of the allegations under investigation,” the report said.
The commission maintained that he was a party to and the ultimate beneficiary of the alleged fraud, despite his attempts to place the blame for the theft on his aides.
“The falsely reported personal loans and donations helped him win the support of the National Party and meet the criteria necessary to run a strong national campaign,” the report said.
The subcommittee also considered allegations that Mr. Santos may have committed sexual misconduct against men seeking employment in his House office, but found that “this allegation cannot be substantiated.” There were no,” the report said.
The subcommittee said it was “concerned” about the man’s “credibility,” and compared his testimony with his statement that he contacted the FBI “for compensation” for information about Santos, the report said. pointed out the contradiction.
Santos has faced accusations of fraud since shortly after winning the election and wresting the district from Democratic control. He acknowledged lying about his business and educational background during his campaign, but denied he broke the law.
— CNBC’s Emily Wilkins contributed reporting.