George Santos, my New York colleague in Congress, is a threat

As a native New Yorker raised on a council estate across from Donald Trump’s gold-plated golf course, I know what it’s like when the neighborhood you love is hijacked by a man who is fraudulent to the core.

Now, as I begin my second term in Congress to represent the good people of the Bronx, I find myself in an institution I love being hijacked by yet another liar, con, and con man.

By his own admission, Santos rose to elected office by lying to voters on almost every facet of his personal and professional life.

Rep. George Santos of New York’s 3rd congressional district was widely feted by Republicans for flipping a Democratic seat in the last midterm election. But as we now know from intrepid investigative reporting, his candidacy was a scam based on a massive web of deception. By his own admission, Santos rose to elected office by lying to voters about almost every facet of his personal and professional life — including his family heritage, education, work experience, business connections, philanthropic endeavors and campaign finance.

Under normal circumstances, the depth and breadth of his deception would cause one to resign from public office. But these are not normal times, and Santos is not only shameless in lying, but also in lying about his lying. In a radio show titled “War Room,” Santos assured Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, that he had “lived an honest life” and had never been accused of wrongdoing. Not to mention all the lies Santos has told and the numerous criminal investigations accusing him of wrongdoing.

It is amazing how someone who has systematically misled the public on this scale can be trusted to perform the duties of his congressional office in good faith. Every American should be concerned about the risk of Santos having access to classified information — and what he might do with it. This man’s presence in Congress is a threat to our democracy and national security, a disgrace to this institution, and a major distraction from pressing issues that are far more worthy of our time, energy, and attention. It’s time for Santos to realize he can’t serve the public he’s betrayed. His ability to govern was weakened by a complete collapse in his credibility.

Unfortunately for the American people, a shockingly few members of Santos’ own party have found the courage to publicly denounce him and call for his overdue resignation. The modern GOP has been hijacked by arsonists bent on burning everything around them, including the Office of Congressional Ethics. Acceptance of Santos by the right is a function of power politics rather than ethics: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy needs every vote he can get, and he needs George Santos to stay in power. Put simply, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives is in no hurry to drain the Santos swamp.

But as someone who takes my oath seriously, I write to say that the truth must matter. This cannot and should not be a party question. There is a difference between right and wrong. And the American people deserve to be represented by someone with integrity. Someone who is open about who they are, where they come from and what they stand for. As elected officials, we cannot require our constituents to abide by rules that we would not follow as a legislature. And those in power who willfully violate these basic principles should be held accountable to the fullest extent possible.

As several law enforcement agencies rightfully continue their investigations into Santos, I’m acting on two different fronts.

As several law enforcement agencies are rightfully continuing their investigations into Santos, I am therefore acting on two separate fronts.

First, last week I joined forces with my colleague and friend Rep. Dan Goldman of New York’s 10th congressional district to file a formal complaint against Santos with the House Ethics Committee and to conduct an investigation into possible violations of House ethics and the campaign to ask financial law. Goldman and I also introduced the Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker — or SANTOS — Act, which aims to require candidates for federal office to tell the truth under oath about their education, military service, and employment history . If legislation is signed, a con man like Santos could be fined or jailed for lying to the public about his qualifications.

As a country and as a legislature, I wish we weren’t at this moment. I wish this kind of legislation wasn’t necessary. But I sincerely hope that even in a sharply divided Congress, there will be bipartisan support. I urge my colleagues to join me in rejecting George Santos and demanding answers to the remaining questions about his campaign and personal finances. He is a master manipulator and liar whose presence among us is beneath the dignity of the offices we are privileged to hold and the people we are here to serve. It would be irresponsible and dangerous for us not to try to uncover what Santos seems to know very little about – the truth.