House Ethics Committee launches probe into Santos’ campaign

House Ethics Committee launches probe into Santos’ campaign
George Santos celebrating his victory in the state's 3rd Congressional District election. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

The House Ethics Committee launched a formal investigation into Republican Rep. George Santos last week and will scrutinize his most recent congressional campaign, officials announced.

The committee said in a statement they unanimously voted to establish a subcommittee tasked with investigating aspects of Santos’ most recent bid for the House. 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. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last month anticipated the investigation would be launched into Santos and said he expected a myriad of questions surrounding him to be answered.

The ethics probe follows federal and local resolutions calling for Santos to be ousted from his position in Washington. Democratic U.S. Reps. Ritchie Torres, Dan Goldman, Robert Garcia, Becca Balint and Eric Sorensen submitted a resolution to expel Santos from serving in Congress last month.

“Enough is enough: My colleagues and I are introducing legislation to expel George Santos from the United States Congress,” Torres previously tweeted. “If Kevin McCarthy refuses to hold George Santos accountable, then we will.”

Torres and Goldman, both New York Democrats, also filed a complaint against Santos with the House Ethics Committee before the expulsion resolution for allegedly violating the Ethics in Government Act, saying the Republican must be held accountable for deceiving voters and Congress.

The Ethics in Government Act, officials said, was created to “preserve and promote the integrity of public officials and institutions,” which Torres and Goldman said they believe Santos has failed to adhere to. The two described financial reports submitted in 2020 and 2022 as “sparse and perplexing” in the complaint.

A resolution submitted by Town of North Hempstead Democratic Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey that also called for Santos’ expulsion from Congress was passed during a public meeting several weeks ago by a 6-1 vote. North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena presented a resolution for Santos to resign, which passed unanimously.

Republican Councilmember David Adhami said he agreed with the general intent of Lurvey’s resolution but disagreed with its verbiage before voting no, saying there’s information included just to trigger people and it was poorly written. 

DeSena motioned to amend the resolution to remove any mention of her name, saying doing so makes it a political and personal attack, which was voted down 4-3 along party lines. The supervisor endorsed Santos during his congressional campaign and has since changed her tune following the unearthing of Santos’ personal, professional and financial track record.

The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance democracy through the law, questioned the newly elected congressman’s 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 the congressman’s $705,000 loan to his campaign into question, 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.

The FBI is also currently investigating Santos’ role in allegedly scamming a homeless, disabled veteran out of thousands of dollars that would have been used to care for the man’s service dog.

Richard Osthoff said he met Santos, who introduced himself as Anthony Devolder, in 2016 while living in a tent on the side of a New Jersey highway.

Osthoff’s service dog, Sapphire, was suffering from a life-threatening stomach tumor, treatment for which would cost $3,000, the veteran told Patch.

A veterinary technician told Osthoff to use Friends of Pets United, a pet charity headed up by Santos under the Anthony Devolder alias.

Osthoff said he never saw any of the funds after a GoFundMe was set up and subsequently deleted once it got close to hitting the $3,000 goal.

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