The House Ethics Committee said in a statement on Thursday that Mr Santos “knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes; engaged in fraudulent conduct in connection with RedStone Strategies LLC; and engaged in knowing and willful violations of the Ethics in Government Act as it relates to his Financial Disclosure (FD) Statements filed with the House”.
“In light of the ongoing criminal investigation into Representative Santos, and the ISC’s findings of additional uncharged and unlawful conduct by Representative Santos, the ISC recommended that the Committee immediately refer these allegations to the Department of Justice,” the panel added.
Mr Santos slammed the panel on X, writing: “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 added.
“All this Congress wants to do is attack their political enemies with tit for tat unconstitutional censures, impeachments, expulsions and ethics investigations,” Mr Santos wrote. “THE TIME IS NOW FOR THE STATES TO RISE UP AND COMMENCE AN ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION! I’ve come to expect vitriol like this from political opposition but not from the hallowed halls of public service.”
Kellen Curry, a Republican running for the GOP nomination in Mr Santos’s district, told The Independent: “George Santos is finally taking a step in the right direction, but our country is at a crossroads.”
“Today marks the beginning of a renewed focus on the issues that matter, instead of the distraction of the last 11 months,” he added.
Mr Santos has been indicted for fraud, credit card theft, lying to the Federal Election Commission, in addition to other violations. He faces 23 charges in New York federal court and two of his former staffers have pleaded guilty to connected charges.
The 35-year-old faced calls for his removal even before he was sworn in following a string of revelations of his many falsehoods, including lying on his resume, claiming that his grandparents died in the Holocaust and his mother in the 9/11 terror attacks, having used money raised for a disabled veteran’s dying dog for himself, and his past life as a drag queen in Brazil.
The chair of the Ethics panel, GOP Rep Michael Guest, told CQ Roll Call that he was set to file a motion to expel Mr Santos this week, meaning that a vote on the matter may be held following Thanksgiving break.
The top Democrat on the panel, Rep Susan Wild, said, “I intend to vote yes on any privileged expulsion resolution ... as the work of the Committee is now complete, and I am no longer obligated to maintain neutrality as a Member of the Ethics Committee,” according to HuffPost.
Mr Santos, who has evaded two votes to oust him from the House, was severely criticised by his New York Republican colleagues.
“George Santos should end this farce and resign immediately,” Rep Mike Lawler told Semafor. “If he refuses, he must be removed from Congress. His conduct is not only unbecoming and embarrassing, it is criminal. He is unfit to serve and if he had any dignity, he would resign today.”
Fellow New York GOP Rep Nick LaLota told the outlet that Mr Santos “was never running for re-election” and noted that he thinks the legal and ethics investigations into him would end before election season.
“The question now is: Will he take a plea deal that includes resignation before November 28th when the House returns to session and can expel him?” he asked.