The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it has opened a broad investigation into Rep. George Santos, Republican of New York, under scrutiny for lies about his background and questions about his campaign finances.
In formal complaints Mr. The investigation will cover several areas of alleged misconduct by Santos — including one filed by two of his housemates.
The committee’s top Republican and Democratic members said in a statement that Mr. They said they are trying to determine whether Santos failed to properly fill out his House financial disclosure forms, violated federal usury laws or engaged in illegal activities during his 2022 term. Congress campaign.
Mr. The panel will also investigate allegations of sexual misconduct from a future congressional aide who briefly worked in Santos’ office.
Mr. Santos He said on Twitter He would not comment further, saying he was “fully cooperating” with the panel’s investigation.
The Ethics Committee is not known to actively pursue investigations. Critics often argue that the body moves too slowly and lacks few options to punish lawmakers for wrongdoing. Many representatives Mr. Despite supporting an investigation into Santos, it took two months for the committee to launch one.
Seated representatives also do not like to punish their colleagues. Although the committee can recommend removing a representative from office in rare cases, it often issues fines or reprimands. Its main tool is to issue statements that can press for action by the entire House against members of Congress.
Nevertheless, the committee’s investigation revealed that Mr. The legal and political pressure Santos faced in the wake of a report by The New York Times that revealed he had fabricated much of his life story is compounded. Subsequent reports showed serious irregularities in his campaign finances, including $365,000 in unexplained expenditures.
Federal and local prosecutors said Mr. They are investigating whether Santos has committed any crimes, including lying about his background, the animal rescue charity he ran and his finances. The Federal Election Commission is investigating irregularities in his campaign fundraising and spending, and prosecutors in Brazil are seeking Mr. They tied the fraud charges against Santos to a 2008 incident involving a stolen checkbook.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy testified in Congress over the ethics committee’s findings. Santos’ fate has been at stake for months. But the timeline for the committee’s hearings is unclear, and it typically defers to law enforcement agencies whose investigations overlap with theirs, potentially impeding House investigations.
Mr. In the two months since Santos first took office, at least 10 of his House Republican colleagues and local Republican officials in New York have urged him to step aside. Poll conducted by Newsday and Siena College In January, Mr. Voters in Santos’ district found they overwhelmingly thought he should resign, with 71 percent of Republicans polled.
Mr. in Congress. Santos’ fiercest critics include a first-term Republican legislator from New York. In a statement Thursday, Rep. Mike Lawler, who represents part of the Hudson Valley, said he welcomed a “swift and thorough” review by the Ethics Committee, which he said was “long overdue.”
Rep. Nick LaLotta, a Republican who represents the neighboring district of Long Island, took to Twitter on Wednesday night to criticize Mr. He said Santos is a terrible person and should be thrown out of Congress as soon as possible.
So far, Mr. Santos has faced little consequence other than being ostracized by many Republicans in Congress, although last month he temporarily removed himself from two congressional committees at the direction of House leadership.
On Tuesday, the 10-member body, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, named Mr. The ethics committee’s investigation began when it unanimously voted to create an investigative subcommittee to investigate Santos.
The subcommittee consists of four members — two Democrats and two Republicans — and is chaired by Rep. David Joyce, Republican of Ohio. Its top Democrat is Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee.
Two Democratic lawmakers from New York, Representatives Daniel Goldman and Richie Torres, called Mr. They called for an ethics investigation into Santos, focusing on whether he violated the law when he filed required financial statements late and left out key details.
“Mr. Santos has failed to uphold the integrity that members of the House of Representatives expect,” they wrote.
According to his candidate disclosures, Mr. Santos received more than $55,000 to more than $750,000 during his time running for office, as well as more than $1 million in dividends. According to the revelations, most of this wealth came from his company, Devolder Organization.
Mr. Santos has said he made his money by helping “high-net-worth individuals” make deals, citing the sale of yachts and planes.
“If you’re looking at a $20 million boat, my suggested fee would be $200,000 to $400,000,” he told the outlet. Traffic lights In December.
But Mr. Santos failed to identify any of his clients on candidate disclosure forms, apparently in violation of a rule that requires candidates to disclose any time a single source makes a payment of more than $5,000.
The Times identified numerous irregularities in the way his campaign raised and spent money. Mr. Including paying rent on the house Santos was staying in and holding a fund called Redstone Strategies that hit tens of thousands of donors. Dollars and shared an address with his campaign and business.
Mr. Many of Santos’ Republican colleagues, including Mr. They said the report on Santos raised serious concerns. Within months, other outside groups complained to the group.
Last month, Derek Myers, a prospective congressional aide who had been working with Mr. He said he worked in Santos’ office for a short time before his employment was terminated, and Mr. Santos asked the committee to investigate whether he had committed ethics violations and alleged that he was sexually harassed by the congressman.
Mr. who could not confirm his account. Myers said in a statement that he would disclose more evidence to the committee if told, adding, “I am confident in the evidence and the facts.”
Mr. Although Santos has admitted lying about some aspects of his background, he has denied any criminal wrongdoing, including falsely claiming he graduated from college and worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.