Two House Democrats have demanded Republican congressional leadership disclose how much they knew of embattled first-year Rep. George Santos’ “web of lies” ahead of Election Day.
Dueling controversies have plagued the House of Representatives narrowly returned to GOP control just two weeks ago.
As Republicans question President Biden’s competency amid revelations several classified documents were found at the commander-in-chief’s home in Delaware, Democrats have focused on Santos’ resume fabrications regarding a college degree, his religious heritage and made-up career on Wall Street.
Reps. Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres, both Democrats from New York, penned a letter on Sunday addressed to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Congressional Leadership Fund President Dan Conston.
“It is one thing for a candidate such as Mr. Santos to induce voters to support him based on a web of lies. But it is altogether something else if top levels of Republican leadership knew about Mr. Santos’s lies during the campaign and chose to be complicit,” the letter says. “Investigators examining Mr. Santos’s conduct must understand the entire web of deceit, and it is therefore essential that you cooperate fully and forthrightly with those investigations.”
“The American people also have a right to know whether Republican leadership, including each of you, was complicit in perpetrating this fraud on voters,” Goldman, a former federal prosecutor, and Torres wrote. “We therefore call upon you to explain to the public what you knew about Mr. Santos’s lies and when you knew it.”
On Sunday, Stefanik tweeted, “The American people deserve ANSWERS, not the corrupt DOJ’s whitewashing of the Biden Crime Family.“
In response, Goldman replied, “The American people need ANSWERS about your involvement in George Santos’s scheme to defraud the voters long before the election.”
The letter – obtained by CBS News — argues that recent public reporting indicates that each of the recipients “had at least some knowledge of the web of lies used by Congressman George Santos to deceive his voters long before they became public.” It requests that McCarthy, Stefanik and Conston “proactively and forthright” cooperate with all current and future investigations into Santos, including the prob conducted by the House Committee on Ethics that McCarthy confirmed this week.
“In December, public reporting indicated that multiple Republican insiders were aware of Mr. Santos’s alleged inaccuracies and embellishments and that they were considered a ‘running joke’,’ the letter says. “A senior Republican leadership aide reportedly told the New York Post, ‘As far as questions about George in general, that was always something that was brought up whenever we talked about this race. It was a running joke at a certain point.’”
On Saturday, the New York Times reported that in November 2021, then-candidate Santos commissioned a “vulnerability study” to identify weaknesses in his candidacy that might have been leveraged by an opposing candidate during the course of a campaign. The analysis reportedly revealed Santos had fabricated his educational background, worked at a firm accused of a Ponzi scheme and had multiple evictions and a suspended Florida driver’s license, calling into question his New York residency.
After Santos refused to withdraw from the race, much of his campaign staff reportedly resigned.
“Sadly, even now, after eight other Republican members of Congress have called for Mr. Santos to resign, you have refused to male any public comment on Mr. Santos’s fraudulent candidacy, nor have you shared with the public your understanding of Mr. Santos’s blatant deception and lies prior to the election,” the letter tells McCarthy, Stefanik and Conston.
The letter contends that “it is now almost certain” that Stefanik, one of Santos’ strongest endorsers and supporters, “was aware of Mr. Santos’s web of lies long before the election.” One of Stefanik’s top political aides assisted Santos’ campaign, including by helping him find new staff and vendors after many quit in light of the “vulnerability study,” Goldman and Torres allege.
The Times also reported about early concerns over Santos within McCarthy’s circle, saying Conston, leader of the main House Republican super PAC, “also confided in lawmakers, donors and others associated that he was worried information would come out exposing Mr. Santos as a fraud.”
Despite the Nassau County GOP demanding Santos’ immediate resignation last week, the first-year congressman refused to step down. McCarthy said he will allow Santos to serve as House Ethics investigations play out but will have Santos serve on at most, one committee, amid concerns he could pose a risk to national security.