Santos Drops Re-Election Bid Immediately After Brutal Ethics Report

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After the House Ethics Committee released its long-awaited report on George Santos Thursday morning, which concluded that the freshman Republican congressman committed “grave and pervasive campaign finance violations and fraudulent activity,” Santos announced that he would not run for re-election in 2024. The question now is whether he’ll last another year in Congress.

In a statement, Chairman Michael Guest and ranking member Susan Wild said the panel’s investigative subcommittee discovered “substantial evidence” that Santos knowingly used campaign funds for personal reasons, filed false or incomplete reports to the FEC and violated the Ethics in Government Act. “The Committee concurs with the ISC’s determination that Representative Santos’ conduct warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought severe discredit upon the House,” they wrote. The report was forwarded to the Department of Justice.

In a lengthy post on X, Santos railed against the Ethics Committee, calling the report a “disgusting politicized smear.” But the congressman said he no longer intends to run for a second term.

“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,” he said.

The committee’s full report is a damning account of Santos’s spending practices during his campaign for Congress, in which, investigators write, Santos “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.” They found that Santos transferred funds from the campaign to his own bank accounts, including one $20,000 transfer he used to buy $6,000 worth of Ferragamo luxury goods and to pay his rent. He used campaign money for a plethora of non-political campaign expenditures: $2,281 at resorts in Atlantic City, $4,127 purchase at a Hermes store, at least $2,900 on Botox treatments. Investigators also described “smaller purchases” at the camsite OnlyFans. Though the campaign reported appropriate cash-on-hand numbers, they did not have enough to cover outstanding debts, and one campaign staffer was not paid for eight months.

Many of Santos’s staffers attempted to warn their boss that he could face consequences for ignoring campaign-finance rules. In December 2021, his campaign handed him a “vulnerability report” that detailed his many financial improprieties and encouraged him to drop out before the 2022 election. One staffer told him directly that there was a “very likely chance you will be targeted by the IRS for a personal financial audit.”Three staffers quit when he decided to stay in the race; Santos assured the new people filling their roles that the vulnerability report was inaccurate and “not worrisome.” One staffer said that the campaign’s finances were like a “black box” that was only accessible by Santos and his treasurer Nancy Marks. When staffers raised their concerns with Marks to Santos, he said that she was “untouchable.” Marks pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiring with a congressional candidate to commit wire fraud.

The report’s release marked a new stage of vulnerability for Santos who, so far, has managed to elude any significant punishment from Congress. Earlier this month, the congressman survived a vote to expel him from the House sponsored by many of his fellow New York Republican colleagues. The vote failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed for its passage, with many members voicing concern about getting out in front of the Ethics Committee’s ongoing investigation.

But with the committee’s findings now public, that calculation could change significantly. Congressman Anthony D’Esposito, who authored the expulsion resolution, previously suggested that he might reintroduce the measure following the release of the Ethics report when it might receive more support.

After the report was released, D’Esposito continued his call for Santos to be removed from office.

“The newly released House Ethics Committee report on George Santos is in alignment with my long-held belief that 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,” he said in a statement.

Several members on either side of the aisle indicated that they would now be open to expelling Santos in the wake of the report’s claims. Axios reports that Republican Representatives Greg Murphy, Kelly Armstrong and Dusty Johnson will now support his expulsion as well as Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin. In addition to his fellow New York Republicans, Santos will likely face several new expulsion motions. Guest, the Ethics Committee chairman, said that he would put forward a motion to expel Santos when the House returns from its break. Congressman Robert Garcia, who filed the first expulsion resolution against Santos back in February, also said he would submit a new motion as did Congressman Dan Goldman who previously issued a complaint about Santos to the Ethics Committee.

Santos Drops Re-Election Bid After Brutal Ethics Report