Republican Rep. George Santos announced his re-election campaign Monday despite an overwhelming lack of support from his own political party in a race that is beginning to take shape.
Santos was joined in the race by Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, a Democrat who lost to Robert Zimmerman in last year’s Democratic primary.
Lafazan called Santos “a liar and a fraud” in a statement Monday, saying he “belongs in prison” rather than Congress.
A press release on Santos’ stationery described the embattled representative as “a dependable conservative vote in Congress and a fearless champion of conservative values.” The announcement came in the midst of federal and local investigations into Santos’ personal, professional and financial background.
“I was elected to fulfill my campaign promises of securing our border, lowering the high cost of living, solving the disastrous SALT issue in our tax code, and fighting the Hochul crime crisis of policies empowering criminals to terrorize the people of New York,” Santos said in a statement. “I’ve been in office for 100 days, and through legislation and my votes, I’ve already made significant efforts to honor those promises.”
Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, newly elected state Sen. Jack Martins and newly elected U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito have been vocal in expressing their complete lack of support for Santos going forward.
Efforts to reach the Nassau County Republican Committee for comment were unavailing.
“He’s disgraced the House of Representatives and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople,” Cairo said in a press conference earlier this year.
Santos has been the face of local and federal probes into his personal, professional and financial background. Articles in The New York Times and other publications unearthed the congressman’s lies earlier this year, following his win over Democrat Robert Zimmerman in the state’s 3rd Congressional District in November.
Zimmerman is one of the names brought up as a potential candidate to run for the seat said next year and said 3rd District residents are in need of actual representation that Santos is not providing to them. The district straddles both Nassau and Queens.
“George Santos has violated the trust of the community he was elected to serve and has shown a blatant disregard for the law and our sacred Democracy,” Zimmerman said in a statement. “Voters on Long Island and in Queens deserve a public servant — not a public spectacle.”
Republican Kellen Curry has also filed to run in next year’s 3rd District election and discussed the need to bring transparency back to Long Island and Queens.
“What we’re really focusing on right now is making sure that we draw attention to the current state of leadership,” Curry said in an interview two weeks ago. “Quite frankly, nothing happens if we don’t have leadership that we can believe in.”
Curry, a Queens resident who lives just outside the 3rd District, is an Afghanistan war veteran and former vice president at J.P. Morgan. Curry completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan and currently serves in the Air Force Reserves, according to his campaign website.
The House Ethics Committee launched a formal investigation into Santos last month and will scrutinize his most recent congressional campaign, officials announced.
The committee will determine if the embattled representative failed to properly disclose information and statements to Congress, engaged in sexual misconduct with someone seeking employment in his D.C. office and violated potential federal conflict-of-interest laws.
Santos’ official congressional Twitter account said the newly elected representative “is fully cooperating” in the investigation, but the congressman would not comment on the matter.
The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance democracy through the law, questioned Santos’ sudden influx of wealth after he reported a salary of $55,000 in 2020, which rose to $750,000 in 2022 and $1 million to $5 million in dividends.
The organization also called into question the congressman’s $705,000 loan to his campaign, claiming he falsified reports on nearly 40 expenditure filings under $200.
The center filed the complaint with the Federal Election Commission and the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in January.