NEW YORK — Rep. George Santos on Thursday said he will not run for reelection after he was slammed by the House ethics committee in a damning report that has sparked a new effort to expel him from Congress.
Even as he called the explosive report a “smear” and insisted he won’t resign, the scandal-tarred Republican said he would not run in 2024 for a second term representing his Democratic-leaning Long Island district.
“I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed. I will however NOT be seeking re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time,” Santos said in a lengthy tweet.
Santos’ announcement came minutes after the release of the blockbuster report into his alleged misdeeds that accelerated his humiliating descent to a walking political punchline.
The report included lurid new allegations that Santos looted his official federal campaign accounts to splurge on improper jaunts to Atlantic City, botox treatments, luxury Hermes products and even OnlyFans porn sessions.
“Rep. Santos’s conduct warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office and has brought severe disrepute on the House,” said the 55-page report that was backed unanimously by the bipartisan panel.
The report into the Long Island Republican, which came after a six-month probe by his fellow lawmakers, accuses Santos of shamelessly using his congressional campaign as a personal piggy bank.
“At nearly every opportunity, (Santos) placed his desire for private gain above his duty to uphold the Constitution, federal law, and ethical principles,” the report said. “Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.”
The report makes no recommendation about any punishment for Santos, and the committee’s leaders said making such a recommendation would have delayed the report for several months.
The report immediately sparked a firestorm of new demands for Santos to immediately step down or be expelled. A new expulsion vote could come as soon as the week Congress returns from its Thanksgiving break.
Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., the powerful chair of the ethics panel, said he would now back expulsion for Santos, a reversal of his previous stance.
The effort to boot Santos has been mostly spearheaded by a group of fellow endangered swing-seat New York Republicans, but GOP leaders have stood by him.
“This fraudster has no place serving in the people’s House, and I once again call on my colleagues to join me in advocating for George Santos’ expulsion from Congress,” said Long Island Rep. Anthony D’Esposito.
“George Santos should end this farce and resign immediately. If he refuses, he must be removed from Congress,” tweeted GOP Rep. Mike Lawler, who represents a Westchester County-based district that voted for President Joe Biden by a wide margin.
Despite the outrage, there was no immediate word from House Speaker Mike Johnson on his position on Santos’ fate. He previously said Santos should not be expelled unless he is convicted of a crime.
Republican leaders can ill afford to lose Santos’ precious vote in the almost evenly divided chamber. Democrats would be favored to flip the seat if he quits or is expelled, forcing a special election.
Democratic campaign officials say they will use Santos as a poster child for cartoonish Republican corruption in the age of former President Donald Trump, whether he runs again or not.
Santos beat back an effort to expel him from the House or Representatives last month, with many colleagues suggesting they wanted to wait to see what the ethics report revealed.
Expelling Santos would take a two-thirds vote. A surprising number of Democrats sided with most establishment Republicans in opposing the move to boot him.
The panel also said it plans to share the information gathered in its probe with federal prosecutors, who could file even more charges against Santos.
Santos is awaiting a federal criminal trial on fraud and campaign finance charges but has proclaimed his innocence.
Two of his top campaign aides recently pleaded guilty to lesser charges, signaling heightened legal peril for Santos.
The feds also hit him with a superseding indictment including even more allegations involving misuse of campaign funds and outright stealing of donations from supporters.
Santos, who portrays himself as a trailblazing gay conservative, claims he is a victim of a plot by the so-called Deep State, vengeful prosecutors and powerful establishment enemies in both major parties.
He has rejected widespread calls for him to resign the seat spanning the North Shore and a slice of eastern Queens.
Santos made headlines by scoring a huge upset win in the midterm elections last November. But he quickly was buffeted by allegations that he effectively concocted his entire life story, including lies about education and work history and even Jewish heritage.
He mostly admitted the lies, blaming them on his lack of political experience.
More serious allegations followed, including allegations that he swindled donors to his campaign, filed false reports to the feds, and even stole federal COVID-19 relief funds.