The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

House Ethics Committee launches investigation of Rep. George Santos

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) (Al Drago/Bloomberg)
4 min

A House ethics panel will investigate Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who has admitted to fabricating large swaths of his biography and who has been accused of breaking campaign finance laws.

According to a statement Thursday from House Ethics Committee leaders, its members voted unanimously to establish an investigative subcommittee to look into a litany of claims about the freshman congressman, including about his past business practices, campaign finance expenditures and an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The bipartisan subcommittee will determine whether Santos, 34, may have “engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office,” the statement said.

Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) will serve as chair of the investigative subcommittee and Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) will serve as its ranking Democrat. The other two members of the investigative subcommittee are Reps. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) and Glenn Ivey (D-Md.).

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Santos referred to a message posted on the congressman’s verified Twitter account, which said that Santos “is fully cooperating” with the investigation and that there would be no further comment.

Santos, who was elected in November, has faced calls to step down from Democrats and Republicans — including from the New York delegation — for fabricating many details about his life. The litany of falsehoods includes Santos falsely claiming that he graduated from Baruch College with a 3.89 GPA, lying to a judge in 2017 that he worked for Goldman Sachs and claiming that his mother was at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Immigration records showed she wasn’t in the country.

Santos faces multiple local, state and federal investigations following the reports of lies and fabrications. His résumé has unraveled since his surprise win in the Democratic-leaning 3rd Congressional District that encompasses the North Shore of Long Island and parts of Queens.

Santos has admitted to lying about his education and work history, but questions remain about the source of his wealth, which he used to help fund his campaign. In January, a nonpartisan watchdog group filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission about Santos’s campaign financing.

The Washington Post reported last month that Pennsylvania Amish country farmers had accused Santos of writing bad checks and taking puppies, leading to a criminal charge in 2017. The Post has also reported that Santos claimed the cousin of a Russian oligarch as a client and that Derek Myers, a prospective staffer in Santos’s D.C. office, claimed last month that he was sexually harassed by the embattled congressman.

Myers filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics. On Thursday, Myers told The Post that he would disclose evidence to the committee if called upon.

“I have faith in the evidence and the facts,” Myers said. “The evidence is strong with respect to my involvement.”

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) has falsified his personal history, padded his résumé and made other outlandish claims that have put him in hot water. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Santos has resisted calls for him to resign, as has House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who said Santos was legally elected and seated without objection. House Republicans assigned Santos to two House committees in January, but Santos later stepped down from those committees, saying he was a “distraction.”

As a candidate, Santos called for the House Ethics Committee to investigate New York Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tom Suozzi. Though he has mostly evaded reporters’ questions in the halls of Congress, Santos appeared for an interview last month on “Piers Morgan Uncensored,” where he admitted: “I’ve been a terrible liar.”

Santos described lies about his higher education as “one of my biggest regrets in life.” He blamed his false claims of having graduated from Baruch College on the “expectation [of] society, the pressure,” and not being able to afford to go to college.

While describing the decision as “stupid,” he claimed it stemmed from “the political apparatus and the political culture of New York state.”

Asked why he didn’t think his lies would be uncovered, Santos responded: “I ran in 2020 for the same exact seat for Congress, and I got away with it then.”

More on George Santos

Rep. George Santos, the freshman Republican congressman whose myriad falsehoods became both a scandal and a national punchline, was charged with a host of financial crimes including fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and false statements. Here’s a look at the 13 counts against him.

What has Santos lied about? Santos fabricated much of his biography. The list of untruths is long, here are few: