In the US, Republican congressman George Santos, who is the son of Brazilians, announced that he will not seek re-election to the House next year, after the house’s Ethics Committee today released a long-awaited report concluding that there is “significant evidence” of that the New York politician used campaign funds for personal purposes.
The report shows that Santos engaged in “knowing and intentional violations regarding financial statements provided to the House, and knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission.”
A statement from the commission said the panel voted unanimously to approve the report. The committee said it discovered additional “illegal conduct” by Santos that goes beyond the criminal allegations already pending against him, and will immediately refer these allegations to the Department of Justice for further investigation.
Santos announced in a statement that he will not seek reelection following the release of the ethics report, although he remained critical of the allegations against him and denounced the investigation, calling it a “biased report.”
“It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk. Everyone who participated in this serious miscarriage of justice should be ashamed of themselves,” Santos wrote about the report in a post on X, formerly Twitter. He further said: “However, I will NOT seek re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under pressure from the press all the time.”
The release of the report is expected to fuel an ongoing effort to expel Santos from the party, which has failed in the past despite gaining support from some Republicans. Expulsion is extremely rare and requires a two-thirds majority in the House to be successful. Supporters of the push to expel Santos said they believe the release of the report will be enough to convince more lawmakers to support the effort.
The panel concluded that Santos “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial gain.”
The panel said the congressman’s conduct deserves “public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought grave discredit upon the House.”
Santos refused a voluntary interrogation and also did not submit a written response to the Ethics panel’s allegations.
But the committee decided against issuing a subpoena to Santos because of his likelihood of invoking his Fifth Amendment right and that his testimony “would have low probative value.”
The panel also said Santos “did not fully cooperate” with the investigation.
The release of the report is the latest blow to the New York Republican, who has separately pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges, including allegations of fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, misusing campaign funds and lying about your personal finances in House disclosure reports. Santos denies the accusations.
Pressure for expulsion should grow
House Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest, a Republican from Mississippi, will make a motion to expel Santos on Friday, a source told CNN. The strategy is that having Guest will make the motion seen as less political and get more members to support the expulsion, according to sources involved in the planning.
While the committee did not include a disciplinary recommendation in the report because it would have taken more time, the fact that the group’s chairman is making the motion will send a strong message to the rest of the Republican wing — and is a sign that this expulsion effort could be successful this time.
In early November, a Republican attempt to expel Santos failed in the House. Several lawmakers expressed concern about the prospect of expelling a member facing an unfinished legal battle and without a criminal conviction. Before the vote, Santos defended his right to the “presumption of innocence”.
In May, the House voted for a Democrat-led resolution to expel Santos from the Ethics Committee.
Source: CNN Brasil
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