Republican New York Rep. George Santos, who last year helped his party gain control of the House by flipping a battleground congressional district, has quickly become one of Congress’ most controversial members.
Since the publication of a bombshell New York Times report in December, he was caught lying about key parts of his biography and campaign, ranging from whether he ever worked at the Wall Street firms he said he did to whether he is Jewish. In the ensuing months, the sources of his campaign funds have come under scrutiny. Additionally, a man who briefly worked as an aide to Santos has accused him of sexual harassment. Santos denied the allegations to CNN, calling them “comical.”
Multiple inquiries have been launched into Santos’ history, from federal probes to state reviews to a criminal investigation in Brazil. The latest in the growing list was announced on Thursday, when the House Ethics Committee said it had opened an investigation into Santos.
Here is what to know about all the inquiries into Santos.
The House Ethics Committee will broadly examine the charges against Santos, following a complaint by two Democratic congressmen from New York. The members of the committee—split evenly between Democrats and Republicans—voted unanimously to create a subcommittee to investigate Santos. The committee could fine Santos or issue a report urging the House to take action against him, including by calling for his removal. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has previously said Santos will be removed from Congress if the committee discovers he broke the law.
Outside of Congress, several federal bodies appear to be examining Santos as well. In late December, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York reportedly began a federal probe into Santos’ finances. The office has not confirmed whether it is investigating him. However, a man who accused Santos of improperly keeping funds that were raised to save the man’s dying dog told Politico that two FBI agents contacted him on behalf of the office in early February.
In January, a D.C.-based nonprofit filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging Santos filed false fundraising and spending information and used campaign funds for personal expenses, including rent. The FEC does not comment on ongoing investigations, but could hit Santos with a fine if it finds a violation. The Justice Department asked the FEC to hold off on any enforcement action against Santos as it conducts a criminal probe, according to the Washington Post.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also interviewed two people this year about Santos’ involvement with a firm that shut down in 2021 after the SEC accused it of running a “classic Ponzi scheme,” the Post reported.
New York state officials
New York State Attorney General Letitia James said in late December that her office was looking into Santos, but did not specify whether it had launched a formal investigation.
Around the same time, the District Attorney for Nassau County, where Santos’ district is centered, said it was reviewing the congressman’s conduct. Republican District Attorney Anne Donnelly said that the “numerous fabrications and inconsistencies” associated with him were “stunning” and that “if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, a Democrat, also said her office was “reviewing whether Queens County has jurisdiction over any potential criminal offenses.” There isn’t much public information about the scope and intensity of state attorneys’ reviews.
The investigations aren’t confined to American shores. Brazilian officials in the Rio de Janeiro state prosecutor’s office announced in January that they are again pursuing fraud charges against Santos. Officials previously suspended the case in the early 2010s because they could not find Santos.
The charges center on the allegation that Santos stole a checkbook from his mom’s purse that belonged to a man she worked for and used it to buy clothing under a fake name in 2008. He previously admitted to the incident, Brazilian prosecutors said. Late last year, however, Santos denied that he is a criminal in Brazil or anywhere else.
Santos faces a maximum of five years imprisonment, plus a fine, if he’s found guilty.
- Donald Trump Was Just Indicted. Here's What to Know About the Charges and the Case
- What Could Happen Next for Donald Trump
- Trump's Indictment Drama Showcased His Rivals' Weakness
- Inside Ukraine's Push to Try Putin For War Crimes
- Bad Bunny's Next Move
- Elon Musk Signs Open Letter Urging AI Labs to Pump the Brakes
- Eliezer Yudkowsky: Pausing AI Developments Isn't Enough. We Need to Shut it All Down
- 'How Is This Still Happening?' A Survivor Questions America's Gun Violence Problem
- Cheryl Strayed Will Always Be Here for You
- Who Should Be on the 2023 TIME100? Vote Now