WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (Reuters) – Embattled US Representative George Santos said he had no intention of heeding calls from fellow New York Republicans to resign, a plea they made on Wednesday because of what they called “lie after lie after lie” about his career and history.
Upper House Republican Kevin McCarthy said he had no plans to pressure Santos, part of his narrow 222-212 majority, despite public advocacy from more than a dozen top Republicans, many of them from Santos’ suburb of New York City.
New York Republicans made their case at a news conference two days after an impartial watchdog accused Santos of violating campaign finance laws in a filing with the Federal Election Commission.
“It’s just lie after lie after lie. It became a pattern,” said Joseph Cairo Jr., the party chairman in Nassau County.
Republican Representative Nick Langworthy of western New York and Representative Anthony D’Esposito, who represents a district adjacent to Santos’s, were also among those calling for the first-term congressman to resign.
“I join my colleagues in saying that George Santos is incapable of serving here in the House of Representatives and should resign,” he said.
Santos dismissed those calls in remarks to reporters at the Capitol and elaborated on his plans on Twitter.
“I was elected to serve the people of #NY03, not the party and politicians. I remain committed to that and I am sorry to hear that local officials are refusing to cooperate with my office,” he wrote, referring to the congressional district that he represents.
McCarthy told reporters Wednesday that voters, not lawmakers, should choose who represents them.
“In today’s America you are innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
‘SIMPLY TRAGIC AND OUTSTANDING’
Santos, who represents much of Nassau County as well as a small portion of New York City, has admitted to fabricating much of his resume.
He won his November race against Democrat Robert Zimmerman by a margin of 7.5 percentage points.
But his victory was soon overshadowed by media reports indicating that the persona he presented to voters was largely fiction.
Among other things, Santos said he had degrees from New York University and Baruch College, despite neither institution having any evidence of his attendance. He claimed to have worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, which was also untrue.
He also falsely stated that he was Jewish and that his grandparents had escaped the Nazis during World War II.
“It’s unbelievable that he’s making up this story that his parents were Holocaust survivors. It’s just tragic and outrageous and disgusting,” said Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman. “He is a blot on the House of Representatives.”
At the press conference, officials said they would refer Santos voters in some cases to Representative D’Esposito, who had agreed to help residents of the Santos district.
Two House Democrats on Tuesday referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee this week. The local district attorney has said her office is investigating Santos.
If Santos stepped down, his district could secure a competitive special election.
He won his 2022 election with 52% of the vote to Democrat Zimmerman’s 45%, handing the Republicans a seat formerly held by Democrat Thomas Suozzi.
The 2022 election took place with newly drawn district boundaries. Had those lines been there in the 2020 presidential election, Democratic President Joe Biden would have won the district by eight percentage points.
Under New York law and federal law, the seat would be vacant until a special election, which would take about three months.
Reporting by Gram Slattery and Moira Warburton, additional reporting by Jason Lange and Doina Chiacu; Edited by Scott Malone, Mark Porter and Aurora Ellis
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