Santos files paperwork indicating he may seek reelection in 2024. His critics say it's just another scam.
The embattled Republican congressman submitted a statement of candidacy Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission.
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., filed paperwork Tuesday indicating that he intends to seek reelection.
The embattled Long Island Republican — who is facing multiple investigations for false claims and possible campaign finance violations — submitted a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, allowing him to raise money for a prospective 2024 reelection campaign.
The funds can also be used to pay back the $700,000 Santos lent to his 2022 campaign — a payment that has drawn scrutiny from investigators — as well as any legal fees stemming from the ongoing federal, state and local probes into his conduct.
The FEC filing immediately prompted some of his critics to say that Santos has no interest in a reelection bid and only intends to use money raised for it to pay his lawyers.
“His candidacy filing opens the door for Santos’s latest scam,” Concerned Citizens of NY-03, an advocacy group opposing the Long Island Republican, said in a statement. “Santos knows he can’t win.”
The group suggested Santos “needs money for lawyers and accountants to defend against multiple criminal investigations and an ethics probe.”
“The longer he remains in office,” the group added, “the longer he remains in office the more Republicans will be tainted by the Santos Stink.”
A representative for Santos did not immediately return a request for comment.
A brief history of Santos’s false claims
Elected in November, Santos’s problems began the following month when the New York Times published a story calling attention to the many holes in his biography, which helped spawn a number of investigations into potential campaign finance fraud due to a massive jump in wealth following his failed 2018 run.
The North Shore Leader, a Long Island outlet, reported in September that Santos had filed his disclosure 20 months late and with an “inexplicable” rise in his net worth to $11 million.
Santos has been revealed to have been lying about everything from his academic and professional record to his religion and whether his mother was present at the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks. (One place where he did actually work recently, Harbor City Capital, was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of operating a Ponzi scheme.)
The Forward, a New York City-based Jewish publication, published a report suggesting that Santos misled voters about having Jewish ancestry.
In response, Santos admitted he is Catholic, and claimed that when he learned his maternal family had Jewish ties, he would say he was “Jew-ish.”
The investigations he’s facing
Santos is facing numerous state and federal investigations, both in the United States and Brazil.
The House Ethics Committee, as well as state and federal prosecutors, are looking into Santos’s campaign finances.
In January, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department has asked the FEC to provide any relevant documents and asked that the commission “hold off on any enforcement action against Santos as prosecutors conduct a parallel criminal probe.” (The next round of financial disclosure forms for congressional members and their senior staff members is due on May 15.)
Santos is also being investigated by federal prosecutors for his role in a service dog charity scheme, including an allegation by a U.S. Navy veteran that Santos raised money for his dying service dog and then ghosted him without turning over the funds.
In 2017, Santos was charged with writing bad checks to dog breeders in Pennsylvania (the charges were later dropped) and accused of orchestrating a credit card skimming scheme in Seattle the same year.
On Wednesday, the Times reported that federal and local authorities were looking into a yacht deal Santos brokered between two of his biggest donors.
If that weren't enough, Santos is reportedly a wanted man in Brazil, where he was charged with and confessed to stealing the checkbook of a man his mother was caring for in 2008. ABC News reported in January that prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro are seeking to the renew charges against Santos.
In an interview with the New York Post last week, Santos flatly denied any criminal wrongdoing.
“I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world,” he said.
A tumultuous first term
Since arriving in Washington, D.C., Santos has resisted calls for his resignation while repeatedly dodging questions about his false claims, with reporters often tailing him from meeting to meeting on Capitol Hill.
In February, Santos was accused of lying about an exchange at the State of the Union with Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The congressman said Sinema walked by him at the speech and “said something to the effect of, ‘Hang in there, buddy’ or something like that. I said, ‘Thank you, Madam Senator.’ She was very polite, very kindhearted, as I’ve learned to see her.” The next morning, a spokesperson for Sinema’s office vehemently denied Santos’s tale: “This is a lie,” they told Yahoo News.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has pointedly refused to join members of his caucus who have called for Santos to resign.
“The voters have elected George Santos,” McCarthy said. “If there is a concern, he will go through [the Ethics Committee]. If something is found, he will be dealt with in that manner. But they have a voice in this process.”
So far, Santos has shown himself to be an early and consistent supporter of McCarthy, who survived an arduous bid for the speakership. Considering the thin margin Republicans hold in the House — and the likelihood a Santos resignation in a district won by President Biden could result in the seat flipping back to Democrats — McCarthy’s support for Santos is no surprise, and is likely to continue.
Santos, for his part, remains defiant. In an interview last month, Santos insisted that his lying “stopped a long time ago” and claimed that he wants “to be the most transparent member of Congress.”