Santos steps down
WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. George Santos of New York told GOP colleagues Tuesday he is temporarily stepping down from his two congressional committees, a move that comes amid a host of ethics issues and a day after he met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Santos has faced numerous calls for his resignation and is facing multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family background.
Santos was assigned to two fairly low-profile panels, the House Committee on Small Business and to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Still, his arrival has left GOP leadership frequently anwering questions about the congressman rather than on their priorities for the coming months.
In a prepared statement, Santos said he wanted to focus on serving his constituents “without distraction.”
“I want to personally thank Speaker McCarthy for meeting with me to discuss the matter and allowing me to take time to properly clear my name before returning to my committees,” Santos said. “To my constituents, I remain committed to serving the district, and delivering results for both New York’s Third Congressional District and for the American people.”
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the decision was well-received from the GOP conference, saying “I think it was the appropriate thing to do and I was proud of him for getting up and doing this.”
McCarthy met with Santos on Monday night, but did not disclose their conversation.
“You’ll see,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.
The questions surrounding Santos go beyond his misrepresentations to voters, but also whether his congressional campaign followed the law in its reporting to the Federal Election Commission. There have been lingering questions about irregularities in his campaign committee’s financial reports and the source of Santos’ wealth.
If Santos’ campaign is found to have knowingly and willfully made any “materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” on its paperwork, it could potentially face criminal charges, the FEC said in a letter to the campaign last week.
Republicans described the decision by Santos to temporarily step down from the two House panels as voluntary. Rep. Roger Williams, the chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, said he was surprised.