NATIONAL NEWS

Ethics panel says it found ‘substantial evidence’ of lawbreaking by Republican Rep. George Santos

Nov 16, 2023, 8:50 AM

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside the Capitol, in Washington, May 17, ...

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside the Capitol, in Washington, May 17, 2023. The House Ethics panel says it has found “substantial evidence” of lawbreaking by Republican Rep. George Santos of New York and has referred its findings to the Justice Department. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Ethics panel said Thursday it has found “substantial evidence” of lawbreaking by Republican Rep. George Santos of New York and has referred its findings to the Justice Department.

The committee said that Santos’ conduct warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought severe discredit upon the House.

Santos has maintained his innocence and refused to resign despite calls from many of his colleagues to do so.

The panel said Santos knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes; and engaged in violations of the Ethics in Government Act as it relates to financial disclosure statements filed with the House.

The ethics panel’s report also detailed Santos’ lack of cooperation with its investigation and how he “evaded” straightforward requests for information.

The information that he did provide, according to the committee, “included material misstatements that further advanced falsehoods he made during his 2022 campaign.”

The report says that an investigative subcommittee decided to forgo bringing formal charges because it would have resulted in a “lengthy trial-like public adjudication and sanctions hearing” that only would have given Santos “further opportunity to delay any accountability.” The committee decided instead to send the full report to the House.

It urges House members “to take any action they deem appropriate and necessary” based on the report.

The findings by the investigative panel may be the least of Santos’ worries. The congressman faces a 23-count federal indictment that alleges he stole the identities of campaign donors and then used their credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges. Federal prosecutors say Santos wired some of the money to his personal bank account and used the rest to pad his campaign coffers.

Santos, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, is also accused of falsely reporting to the Federal Elections Commission that he had loaned his campaign $500,000 when he actually hadn’t given anything and had less than $8,000 in the bank. The fake loan was an attempt to convince Republican Party officials that he was a serious candidate, worth their financial support, the indictment says.

Santos easily survived a vote earlier this month to expel him from the House as most Republicans and 31 Democrats opted to withhold punishment while both his criminal trial and the House Ethics Committee investigation continued.

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Ethics panel says it found ‘substantial evidence’ of lawbreaking by Republican Rep. George Santos