NEW YORK (AP) — Local Republican leaders in New York on Wednesday called for the immediate resignation of their new GOP congressman, George Santos, who faces multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family heritage .
“His lies weren’t just stupid. He has brought shame to the House of Representatives,” Joseph Cairo Jr., chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee, said at a news conference. “He is not welcome here at Republican headquarters.
Santos, swarmed by reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, flatly rejected calls to resign, saying, “I won’t.”
The call was an extraordinary rebuke for the freshman congressman, whose election months ago flipped a Democratic-held House seat and was initially one of the GOP’s front-runners in the November election. The resignation by local Republicans also increases pressure on Republicans in Congress to reprimand or sideline Santos.
Cairo and other Republicans said Santos misled voters and the Nassau County Republican Party, and were particularly incensed by his lies about having Jewish ancestry.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, another Republican elected to represent Long Island, spoke at a news conference via video from Washington, joining Cairo’s call for his colleague’s resignation.
“George Santos is unfit to serve here in the House of Representatives and should resign,” D’Esposito said.
The local party has no mechanism to remove Santos from office. Last week he was sworn in to the US House of Representatives for New York’s 3rd congressional district.
Santos repeated his denial in a post on Twitter later Wednesday.
“I was elected to serve the people of #NY03, not a party or politicians, I remain committed to doing so and am sorry to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results that will keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I WILL NOT resign!”
The move comes a day after two New York Democrats asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Santos. Reps. Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman said in a letter to the committee that Santos also failed to file “timely, accurate and complete” financial disclosure reports, and the reports he did file were “sparse and confusing.”
Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, calling on regulators to investigate Santos. The “mountain of lies” Santos promoted during the campaign about his life story and qualifications should prompt the commission to “thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money,” the center said.
Initially, the victory for Santos, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, was seen as a bright spot for the party in an otherwise underwhelming midterm election. But when reports began to emerge that Santos had lied about his Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms and a college degree, he turned the party into distraction and embarrassment when it took control of the House.
During his campaign, he referred to himself as a “proud American Jew”. But he later backtracked on that claim, saying his mother’s family was of “Jewish descent” and telling the New York Post: “I said I was ‘Jewish’.”
Bruce Blakeman, a Jewish Republican and elected Nassau County executive, said he and other members of the area’s large Jewish population take their religion and heritage seriously. He said it was “ridiculous” for Santos to call himself Jewish, but said it was “out of line” and “outrageous” when Santos said in an interview that his grandparents were Holocaust survivors.
“He can no longer serve. He doesn’t deserve that right,” Blakeman said. “He’s a stain on the House of Representatives.”
Blakeman said his office will have no interaction with Santos or his staff until he resigns, and that the county will refer any of Santos’ constituents seeking help to D’Esposito’s office in a neighboring congressional district.
Santos first ran for Congress in 2020, losing to Democrat Tom Suozzi. He ran again in 2022, facing Democrat Robert Zimmerman in a district that includes some Long Island suburbs and a small sliver of Queens.
Cairo said Santos was endorsed by the Nassau GOP after another local Republican club recommended him as a 2020 candidate and that Santos lied when he submitted his resume. He said he would change his vetting process going forward.
Now, with Santos, Cairo said, “We don’t consider him one of our congressmen.”
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