More and more, Rep. George Santos is becoming a man alone.
On Wednesday, a line of Nassau GOP officials from Rep. Anthony D'Esposito to County Executive Bruce Blakeman took to a podium at Westbury party headquarters to call for the freshman's immediate resignation. County Republican leader Joe Cairo said Santos' campaign had been one of "deceit, lies," and "fabrication." Statements from the state GOP, Conservatives, Suffolk GOP, and Suffolk Rep. Nick LaLota followed suit: time to go. Blakeman even described Santos as "delusional" and in need of help.
It's just the latest negative attention Santos has drawn, like a magnet attracting iron filings. He has prompted scrutiny from federal, state, and local law enforcement. Nonprofit groups and fellow House members from both sides of the aisle have implored leadership to make Santos go committee-less or the Federal Election Commission to look into his sketchy campaign finance behavior.
It all amounts to an extraordinary introduction for the 3rd Congressional District newcomer, with the stunning rebuke from his own party capping off a shocking start to the term.
Cairo is right to call out Santos, though the GOP bears responsibility for boosting him and standing with him this long. Surely, the party knows federal prosecutors will want to look at the money it took from Santos to give other candidates. It’s always better to get out in front of the posse.
Santos is incapable of serving his constituents. The suggestion by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that Santos won't sit on a top committee isn't enough. McCarthy must find his voice regarding Santos, particularly given the mixed message sent by one of the GOP majority’s first orders of business: passing a rules package that outside observers warn could hamper good investigative work by the Office of Congressional Ethics. One element would make it difficult to hire investigators for the office, which makes recommendations to the Ethics Committee for further action.
What does Santos think of the new rules package, including ethics office changes? They’re “fantastic,” he told Insider, a digital news outfit. Certainly, they would be -- for someone who wants to avoid even more scrutiny.
It’s no secret that ethics enforcement in the House has long been moribund, with political leaders of both parties often interested in protecting their miscreant members while waiting for them to be indicted or shuffled out of office. But the House needs a mechanism to hold its members accountable, as Santos' shenanigans show. The known universe of his misdeeds is plenty to justify him resigning, let alone going without committees.
With Santos refusing to leave, despite his growing lack of peer support, it’s up to McCarthy to convince Santos that his prevarications and problematic financial behavior won’t be tolerated. That would be a worthy message if the party really seeks to drain the swamp.
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