U.S. Rep. George Santos asked Tuesday to be temporarily recused from serving on House committees amid ongoing probes into his personal, professional and financial background.
“With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared,” Santos said in a statement Tuesday. “This was a decision that I take very seriously. The business of the 118th Congress must continue without media fanfare. It is important that I primarily focus on serving the constituents of New York’s Third Congressional District and providing federal level representation without distraction.”
Republican House leaders announced two weeks ago that Santos would serve on Congress’ Small Business Committee as well as the Science, Space and Technology Committee despite growing calls for him to resign. A Siena and Newsday poll of 653 registered 3rd District voters conducted from Jan. 23-26 showed that 78% want Santos to resign.
A total of 75% of respondents also said Santos cannot be an effective representative. Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte told Newsday that she has not been able to get in touch with Santos’ office and has turned to U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, who previously endorsed Santos for Congress and has subsequently barred the congressman from any town event she is present at, told Newsday she hopes the officials already in place outside of Santos can be enough for the town to function as best as possible until he is removed from office.
DeSena and Chris Boyle, spokesperson for Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, told Newsday they have also not heard from Santos. The Nassau County Republican Committee and local GOP officials called on Santos to resign in early January.
Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo said that newly-elected 4th District U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito offered to help field calls from parts of the 3rd District instead of having calls go to Santos’ office.
Blakeman, a Republican, while calling for Santos to resign, said the congressman’s lies about his Jewish heritage and family lineage during the Holocaust were outrageous.
“What was really tragic is the fact that there are so many people here in Nassau County that are survivors of the Holocaust,” Blakeman said several weeks ago. “These are people whose families were decimated and it many instances wiped out… For him to make up this story that his parents were Holocaust survivors is beyond the pale.”
Santos, who claimed his grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust, condemned antisemitism during a speech he gave on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the House floor. Screenshots of old social media posts allegedly made by Santos included a salute to Adolf Hitler and comments about “the Jews and black[s],” according to Patch.
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiiiiiiitlerrrrrrrrrrr (hight hitler) lolololololololololololol sombody kill her!! the jews and black mostly lolllolol!!! Dum,” a Facebook comment from a profile named “George A D Santos” posted more than a decade ago with the congressman’s face as the profile picture.
Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman by 142,017-120,060 in the district’s November election.
After multiple publications, including The New York Times, unearthed falsehoods in his personal and professional background, the newly elected congressman said he would continue to serve the 3rd District constituents until the same number of people who voted for him call for him to step down.
“I was elected by 142,000 people,” Santos told U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who hosted Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast two weeks ago. “Until those same 142,000 people tell me they don’t want me, we’ll find out in two years.”
Santos also tweeted weeks ago that he would not resign from Congress, touting his desire to serve the constituents of the 3rd District rather than other politicians or political parties.
3rd District residents who want Santos out have already begun to band together in the form of online petitions. Great Neck’s Jody Kass Finkel launched a change.org petition calling on Santos to step down which had received more than 35,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
Finkel, along with Nassau County and state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, called for Cairo and other local Republican officials to sign a bipartisan statement on congressional integrity. The statement advocates for Congress to expel Santos from his position if he does not resign.
“Bipartisan calls for George Santos’ resignation are a welcomed step forward,” Jacobs said in a statement. “All of us, from both parties, that value and respect the responsibility and stature of elected office, particularly that of the House of Representatives, should unite in demanding Santos’ expeditious expulsion from the House, should he refuse to resign.”