Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) speaks to reporters outside the U.S....

Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) speaks to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.  Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

WASHINGTON — A top aide in Rep. George Santos’ congressional office has resigned, telling the embattled lawmaker she was “honored” to quit working for him.

Communications Director Naysa Woomer, in a resignation letter obtained by Scripps News, wrote: “With respect for my colleagues, the people of New York, and most importantly, myself, I am honored to tender my resignation.”

Woomer, one of the first staff members hired to join Santos on Capitol Hill in January, wrote on Wednesday: “Unfortunately, you never took one point of professional advice given.”

The resignation came after conservative outlet O’Keefe Media Group released an audio recording in which Woomer called Santos “not a good person” as she spoke about his recent indictment on 13 federal felony charges. Santos has pleaded not guilty to charges such as defrauding campaign donors and receiving COVID-19 unemployment benefits while still working.

Woomer on the audio is heard responding to questions about Santos, saying “I actually hope he does” get removed from Congress.

Woomer, who worked previously on Capitol Hill and in the administration of former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Santos’ press secretary Gabrielle Lipsky confirmed Woomer's resignation, saying Woomer had “served this office and the constituents of New York’s Third Congressional District for the past five months."

Lipsky continued in a statement: “We appreciate and thank her for her diligent service and wish her nothing but the best.”

The audio of Woomer was released on social media Wednesday, just as Santos faced an effort by House Democrats to force a vote on a resolution to expel him from Congress. The effort was squashed after House Republicans voted to refer the expulsion measure to the House Ethics Committee, which has been investigating Santos since March.

The other Long Island House members — Republican Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Andrew Garbarino, and Nick LaLota — all voted to refer the measure to the bipartisan ethics panel, saying expulsion recommendations should come from the ethics panel after an investigation.

House Democrats called the referral a stalling tactic aimed at helping House Speaker Kevin McCarthy preserve his narrow five-member majority.

Some Democrats also raised concerns that Garbarino and the four other Republicans who sit on the Ethics Committee voted for the referral, while the five Democrats on the committee voted “present” to emphasize their neutrality.

“I do think it’s important for us to maintain total neutrality on matters that are going to come before us,” Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, told Punchbowl News.

Garbarino, who for months has cited his position on the panel in refusing to comment about Santos, said after Wednesday’s vote: “The Ethics Committee is best positioned to investigate this matter. I’m reserving all other judgment until the investigation is complete.”

Garbarino spokeswoman Kristen Cianci said Thursday in an email that Garbarino, “and the other Members of the Ethics Committee who voted yes are not inherently weighing in or breaking neutrality.”

Cianci said Garbarino's yes vote was "simply saying that he believes the Committee is best positioned to investigate this matter.”

Also Thursday, Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), who introduced the expulsion measure this week, wrote to McCarthy demanding a “clear public timeline of when we may expect” a report from the ethics committee.

Garcia noted that an expulsion resolution he sponsored in February already had been referred to the committee.

“I hope that you will clarify the timeline by which we can expect the Ethics Committee to ‘move rapidly’ so that the House can take a transparent vote on whether Mr. Santos deserves to continue to serve as a member of this body,” Garcia wrote. Garcia was referring to McCarthy’s comments to reporters that he would push the panel to work swiftly.

McCarthy’s office did not immediately comment on Garcia's letter, although on Wednesday McCarthy said the ethics panel would not delay its investigation if the U.S. Department of Justice were to make such a request.

Typically the ethics committee has deferred to the U.S. Department of Justice when both are investigating the same lawmaker. But Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), who is leading the committee’s Santos investigation, said Thursday the committee had notified authorities it would not delay its investigation.

“What we’re saying is, certainly the criminal case that DOJ wants to look at — feel free to continue that process, but ethical issues that deserve to be reviewed here in the House Ethics Committee is what we’re going to do,” Joyce told NBC News.

Asked how long the Santos probe might take, Joyce said “investigations take time,” but that he had “no sense” of when the probe will conclude.

LaLota in a statement Wednesday he expected results from the ethics panel "within 60 days."

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