WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee will not recommend whether to expel or sanction Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) when it releases a report Thursday on its monthslong investigation into his conduct, the chairman of the committee said Wednesday.
Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.), speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, said the bipartisan panel would hold off on issuing recommendations on Santos’ future in the U.S. House because doing so would extend the investigation by at least another year.
“We thought that, based upon the information that was out there to the public … that would be enough for members to be able to make a decision as to whether they believe it would be proper to expel [Santos],” Guest said.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) vowed Wednesday to try again for passage of a motion to expel Santos after he and bill co-sponsors failed two weeks ago to get the two-thirds vote necessary for expulsion.
“New Yorkers already know George Santos is an admitted fraud, and I’ll continue to advocate for his expulsion,” D’Esposito said in a statement to Newsday.
The Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Santos on Feb. 28. The probe came after a New York Times report two months earlier had found the freshman congressman lied on the campaign trail about key parts of his resume, touting credentials for jobs he never held and education degrees he never obtained.
A subcommittee was tasked with examining whether Santos “engaged in unlawful activity” during his 2022 campaign in New York's 3rd Congressional District, and whether his financial disclosure forms complied with federal reporting requirements. The subcommittee also was to examine whether Santos violated conflict of interest laws, and probe harassment assertions by an individual who had sought a job in Santos’ congressional office.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Santos declined to comment, saying he wanted to view the Ethics Committee's report first.
Santos has pleaded not guilty in federal court to 23 criminal charges including wire fraud, defrauding campaign donors and accepting unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic despite having a job at the time.
On Tuesday, former Santos campaign fundraiser Sam Miele pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. Miele was accused of impersonating an aide to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to solicit campaign donations. Santos' former campaign treasurer Nancy Marks also has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge for allegedly providing false information tor campaign donors.
In a virtual town hall Tuesday night, Santos addressed his mounting legal woes, saying "there's been a significant amount of media coverage on legal troubles that I'm facing, and I am going to be fighting those head on and I look forward to doing so.”
Stanley Brand, a veteran ethics attorney and former counsel to the House, told Newsday the ethics committee’s holding off on issuing recommendations “sounds like a punt to me, and a serious break with precedent.”
Brand continued: “The House usually awaits a conviction until moving against a member. This is being proposed without a trial and the usual process for having triers of fact weigh the evidence. Politically expedient but setting a new and dangerous precedent. One more demerit for what is supposed to be a quasi adjudicative exercise.”