As embattled MP George Santos received his committee seats on Tuesday, there are fresh calls for a deeper dive into his past.
The latest twist in the saga was a report from Patch.com Tuesday night that detailed a claim that Santos – under an alias – sponsored a fundraiser for a disabled veteran’s ailing service dog and then kept the money instead.
The new allegation sparked a fresh wave of outrage over the congressman’s many alleged misdeeds – although he texted the publication Semafor to flatly deny the story. (NBC News also reached out to Santos for comment, but had received no response as of Wednesday morning.)
The dog story follows previous New York Times reports of questions about Santos’ animal welfare efforts, including claims that other donations raised were not going to their intended recipients.
It comes as a New York congressman asked the Federal Elections Commission to investigate possible illegal activities emanating from the Republican’s campaign – and as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy admitted he and his team knew there would be credibility issues ahead of the election from Santos gave.
Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres visited Long Island Santos Borough constituents and informed them that he had filed a letter with the FEC to investigate the matter. Torres, a Democrat, claimed Santos’ false biography — with fabricated details about where he worked and attended schools — combined with unusual financial disclosures could prove illegal.
“The $700,000 question is where is all the money coming from?” said Torres. “My message to Mr. Santos: This will not end well for you. You should resign.”
Just last week, Santos slammed coverage of his travails as “media nonsense” as he defiantly insisted he has no plans to quit Congress. He has said that he was only embellishing a resume and that an ethical inquiry into his biography will not deter him from the service.
McCarthy confirmed Tuesday that he will indeed get committee seats and additional responsibilities. He sat on the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee, Republican sources told NBC News.
However, McCarthy also admitted that his own team had some suspicions about Santos because of the actions of a staff member even before he was elected.
“My staff raised concerns when he had an associate posing as my chief of staff and that person was fired,” McCarthy said. “I never knew about his resume, but I always had a few questions about it.”
The newly elected speaker of the House of Representatives said he had no plans to take action against Santos and said it was up to voters – not him – to decide Santos’ fate. McCarthy’s comments, echoing others of his recent statements, drew a reaction from a newly elected Democrat from New York.
“We are very concerned about the extent to which the Republican leadership was complicit in Santos’ plan to defraud his constituents,” said freshman Rep. Dan Goldman, a former prosecutor.
Goldman said top Republican Elise Stefanik’s advisors even helped Santos recast his campaign when several others quit. Stefanik could not be reached for comment.
Political activists have launched the “Where’s George?” Campaign urging Long Islanders to take a photo of Santos whenever they see him and upload it since he is not in his rightful office. Andrew Siff reports.
In Brooklyn, after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries said, “The situation in Santos speaks for itself.
A spokeswoman for Santos – with the embattled congressman expected back in New York during the break – declined to comment.
“I came here to serve the people, not politicians and party leaders, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Santos said in an interview with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz on Steve Bannon’s War Room program last week. “I was voted in by 142,000 people. Until those 142,000 people tell me they don’t want me, we’ll find out in two years.”
“I’ve worked my whole life, I’ve lived an honest life, I’ve never been accused or sued for any bad deeds,” Santos said — declining to answer Gaetz’s repeated questions about the source of the $700,000 he gave him had borrowed to specifically answer campaign.
“I’ll tell you where it didn’t come from: China. Ukraine. How about this?” he said during the mostly affable interview, before turning to say he’s focused on working on the issues that matter to his constituents – like fighting a crime ring from auto theft in affluent neighborhoods in its congressional district.
George Santos said in Steve Bannon’s War Room that he stays in place. Gilma Avalos reports.
His comments came after virtually the entire New York Republican leadership called for Santos to resign from Congress, saying he was “disgraced” and must resign.
His own party’s call for leadership on Jan. 11 was its strongest yet against the embattled freshman, who represents New York’s 3rd Circuit, which includes parts of Queens and much of Nassau County. As of last week, six of the other 10 GOP members in New York’s congressional delegation have called on Santos to leave.
“George Santos’ campaign over the past year was a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication,” said Nassau County GOP committee chair Joseph Cairo Jr., while being joined in naming him by about three dozen elected officials from the GOP an eyesore to the party and Congress. “He deceived the voters of the 3rd congressional district. He has deceived members of the Nassau County Republican Committee, elected officials, his peers, candidates, his opponents and even some of the media.”
In recent weeks, Santos has admitted to lying about his educational background, work experience and investments – and he faces a growing list of alleged fabrications and alleged financial misconduct that he has yet to acknowledge or disprove.
“His lies weren’t lies,” Cairo said. “He disgraced the House of Representatives. His inventions in particular went too far, many groups were hurt – I look in particular at the families who were touched by the horrors of the Holocaust.” (Santos also allegedly lied that his grandparents survived the Holocaust.)
Cairo continued to call for Santos’ “immediate resignation” and said the disgraced congressman was not welcome at GOP headquarters in Nassau County.
“He has no seat on the Nassau County Republican Committee, nor should he serve in the public service or as an elected official,” Cairo said. “He is not welcomed here at Republican headquarters for meetings or other events…we do not consider him one of our congressmen.” Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling for his immediate resignation. ”
NBC New York’s Greg Cergol reports.
Republican donors say they were ‘cheated’ by Santos; Democrats have already filed ethics complaints against him, and a campaign finance watchdog has also filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging irregularities in fundraising.
Hempstead City Warden Donald X. Clavin, Jr. said Santos had united the country in its opposition to him.
“He’s a national joke. It’s an international joke, but this joke needs to go,” Clavin said.
Following the Nassau County GOP leaders’ press conference, the New York State Conservative Party also issued a statement calling for Santos to step down.
The New York State Conservative Party is backing Nassau County Republicans by asking newly elected Rep. George Santos to resign. seriously jeopardizes its ability to represent its constituents,” the statement said, in part.
MP Nick Langworthy, the leader of the state GOP, also issued a statement urging Santos to leave.
In his official campaign biography, Santos simply described the forgeries as résumé embellishments. But questions about its veracity have only snowballed. The new congressman’s untruths include not only details about his education and work history, but also his criminal history in Brazil, his non-profit charity and about being Jewish.
Should Santos resign, Gov. Kathy Hochul would have 10 days to call a special election to replace him, to be held between 70 and 80 days from the date of this proclamation.