This is a statement from Concerned Citizens of NY-03 which has been fighting since January to have George Santos held accountable for defrauding voters and apparently, donors. He has already escaped two votes to expel, and now the House Ethics Committee has issued its report finding “unprecedented” corruption. Further, the Committee found that “the nature of the violations are fundamental ethical failings that go to the core of the legitimacy of the electoral process. And, most significantly, Rep. Santos’ fraud on the electorate is ongoing – he continues to propound falsehoods and misrepresentations.” There is now a third resolution to expel Santos.
In early January, as the litany of Santos’s lies emerged and the scale of his fraud on the electorate became clear, voters came together in a nonpartisan effort to seek his ouster. But even with the firehose of scandals that soon became fodder for late night TV and international media, Santos made it clear that he had no shame and would not resign. Unfortunately, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was unwilling to force Santos out, promising that the Santos mess would be addressed once the House Ethics Committee report was issued, despite the tarnish that Santos’s scandals brought to the GOP.
Outraged NY-03 constituents, the victims of Santos’s fraud, with no voice in Washington, have been holding protest rallies and press conferences, conducting national letter-writing and postcarding campaigns, issuing press statements, signing petitions, andmore. For ten months, we have been calling on the House of Representatives to expel Santos.
We understand that the Constitution permits the House to expel a Member of Congress, and there is no limit on that authority, except that it requires a two-thirds majority. But we also understand that expelling a Member of Congress is momentous, with only five expulsions from the House of Representatives in the history of our country – and that the recent expulsions followed criminal convictions. (Santos’s criminal trial will not begin until September at the earliest, so he is unlikely to be convicted before the next election.)
Yesterday, the House Ethics Committee issued their long-awaited report on Santos, which found overwhelming evidence of unethical conduct and illegal activity. But the Ethics Committee chose not to opine on whether Santos should be expelled, instead leaving it up to the House of Representatives to decide if George Santos should become the sixth Member of Congress ever to be expelled from the House. Importantly, the House Ethics Committee found that the Santos case is “unprecedented in many respects.” Further, the Committee found that “the nature of the violations are fundamental ethical failings that go to the core of the legitimacy of the electoral process. And, most significantly, Rep. Santos’ fraud on the electorate is ongoing – he continues to propound falsehoods and misrepresentations.”
Rep. Michael Guest, GOP Chair of the House Ethics Committee, is expected to introduce a privileged Resolution to Expel Santos this morning, which will force a floor vote on November 28th or 29th. We are relying on the GOP leadership to whip votes so that the expulsion resolution passes this time. We are also looking to the NYGOP Five — Reps. Nick LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams, Mike Lawler, and Marc Molinaro — to fight to achieve Santos’s ouster. Together they have had the power all along to force the GOP leadership to remove Santos from his seat, but so far, they have chosen not to exercise it. They need to notify Republican leadership that they can no longer count on the NYGOP Five to vote in lockstep with the Republican agenda, until Santos is ousted from Congress.
The Ethics Report makes it clear that Santos’s egregious conduct “warrants public condemnation” and the unprecedented nature and scope of his deceits supports the case for expulsion. Indeed, it would set a dangerous precedent to leave George Santos in Congress for his two-year term after his unrelenting lies, theft, and fraud. Allowing Santos to stay would send the wrong message to future fraudsters: If you lie your way into elected office, there will be no consequences, and you can collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits on the public dime. You can also continue to grift as long as you can take the heat from the press and your constituents.
The residents of NY-03 should not have to spend one more day with Santos as our Congressman. Are Republicans up to the task of bringing some integrity back to the House of Representatives?
About 40 cars participated in a “Drive Out Santos” caravan event on Saturday, February 25, organized by Courage for America, Concerned Citizens of NY 03, and Moveon.org. The event was aimed at “driving” home and keeping top-of-mind the many lies, frauds, and failures of George Santos, who remains in Congress months after his frauds came to light, despite investigations by federal, state, local, and even international (Brazil) authorities.
The caravan route was a veritable tour through the labyrinth of Santos’ lies, passing key landmarks that represent the main categories: an animal hospital, exemplifying the bogus charities he set up to bilk people out of money; Citibank, emblematic of his fabricated resume; Lake Success Jewish Center, a reminder of the pain he caused by claiming a Jewish heritage and grandparents who escaped the Holocaust, then saying he didn’t mean he was “Jewish,” but rather he was “Jew-ish:; Il Bacco, where he spent $26,000, encapsulating the campaign finance violations and financial dealings, which are actual crimes, now being investigated by federal, state and local authorities; ending at Santos office (still with former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s name) at 242-09 Northern Blvd, Queens, where he ghosts his own constituents.
(To be refreshed about the dozens and dozens of Santos’ lies, text Santos to 50409 and you can see one by one 40 to 50 of Santos lies, and generate a letter to your Congressmember to vote to expel Santos, a campaign set up by Concerned Citizens of NY 03.)
The route, and the website are aimed at highlighting Santos’ lies and frauds “he wants us to forget” but which have strong emotional impact on the constituents he defrauded, said Casey Sabella. “He lied his way to Congress. And while he is a lackluster legislature [not able to serve on committees] he is pushing legislation that doesn’t comport with the needs, wants and values of NY-03.”
For example, Santos is co-sponsoring legislation to make the AR-15 the “national gun,” – which should also be a reminder that he lied about having four employees massacred at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida. But, it must be said, brings him closer under the protection of the most radical extremists, the Sedition Caucus.
“That encourages violence and makes it harder for teachers and people in public service to do their jobs,” Sabella said, who must be fearful about the next mass shooting, which now happen with more frequency than the days of the month,
Governor Kathy Hochul reacted to Santos co-sponsoring the bill, stating, “It’s outrageous and appalling that New York Congressman Santos would attach his name to legislation that would designate the AR-15 as the ‘national gun of the United States.’ This weapon of war has been used in mass shootings across the United States – from my hometown of Buffalo, where the shooter used a modified AR-15 to murder ten people in a despicable act of white supremacist terrorism, to Parkland, Florida, where the shooter killed seventeen innocent people with an AR-15-style weapon. The families and friends of those killed in Parkland have become heroic advocates for gun safety – including the Beigel-Schulman family of Dix Hills, who fight for change in memory of their son, Scott. This bill, which attempts to glorify the weapons that have been part of such horrific tragedies, adds unforgivable insult to injury for those families. It should never become law, and Congressman Santos should immediately remove his name from it, if he has any respect for New Yorkers.”
The route went past Lake Success Jewish Center, to highlight Santos’ lies about having Jewish heritage, which really rankled Charlie Robbins, a Moveon volunteer and NY03 constituent with his children and grandchildren. “At a time when antisemitism is growing, somebody lying about being Jewish, about being a descendant of Holocaust survivors, is offensive, disqualifying. A man of his character shouldn’t be in Congress. Expel him.” Instead, Santos (who boasted about being at the January 6 rally and contributing money to bail out Capitol rioters) has allied himself with the White Christo Fascists in Congress – including Marjorie Taylor Greene,.
(Indeed, while these constituents were rallying, White Christo Fascists have become so emboldened by Trumpism, as to declare February 25 “National Hate Day,” prompting Governor Hochul, at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah’s Shabbat of PeacN not Hate, to state, “There are 20 million New Yorkers who are with you today and every day as we stand up and call out antisemitism and racism and homophobia and all the other isms, because there’s still far more of us than there are of them, and I want them to know that. There is strength in numbers, but there’s also strength and a legacy of courage of standing up to evil. In the last century, what we saw, the lessons, what happened with the Holocaust.”)
“There is no question in my mind that Mr. Santos is not fit to represent the people of Congressional District 3. We have no idea what he stands for except himself and his power and greed,” Robbins said.
Marie Marsina, who lives within walking distance of two of the sites along the caravan route, Il Bacco restaurant in Little Neck, and Santos’ district office in Douglaston, said, “Santos may think he got away with lying about campaign finance, funding, spending, but these are serious violations of federal law. They are illegal.” Santos patronized Il Bacco frequently – listing expenses of $199.99, exactly one cent short of the $200 threshold for requiring documentation, seven times; he listed items at $199.99 at least 37 times, totaling $7000, on everything from airlines, to purchases at BJ’s to Target. “Where did the money really go?”
“In TV interviews, Santos can play the victim and normalize candidate fraud, he can blame his treasurer [Nancy Marks, who has since resigned] or errors, but he is a grafter under investigation by federal, state, local authorities. Where did the money really go?” she declared. “NY03 deserves a representative, not a fraud. We are being held hostage by Santos, while he is earning $174,000 salary. We are not going away. New York Republican representatives need to step up and call on Congress to vote to expel Santos now.”
“George Santos is a career grifter who seeks out people’s vulnerabilities, including repeatedly preying on their good qualities of compassion and love for vulnerable animals. These actions, among so many other things he has done, make him manifestly unqualified to serve in Congress,”said Emily Raphael from Plainview, a member of the Steering Committee of Concerned Citizens of NY-03.
The route also highlighted Santos’ animal charity fraud, and is even accused of stealing money intended to save the life of a veteran’s dog (many participating in the caravan brought their dogs), prompting a cheer that is unlikely to ever have been used in any rally, “Woof woof. Bow wow. We want Santos gone now.”
The drive passed Citibank in New Hyde Park, represented how Santos fabricated his entire work history, including having worked for Citibank. “If anyone lied about those things, they would be fired. But Santos is still in power,” Sabella said. “And that makes it harder to do our jobs.”
The caravan ended in front of Santos’ office – still with Tom Suozzi’s name on the window and awning – to highlight the fact that though Santos has been back in the district during the Congressional recess, intended for Congressmembers to meet with constituents, he has had no town halls and no engagement.
“He can’t serve as our representative. Every day Congress fails to do something, is an insult to the community,” Sabella said. Santos, she said, betrays the district’s “wants, needs and values.”
“George Santos told real and significant lies that impacted all of us. It’s unacceptable that he is still in Congress actively legislating against us, and he needs to be expelled,” Sabella said.
Follow on social media: @Courage4America, @MoveOn, @CCNY03
About two dozen NY-03 constituents walked up to George Santos’ Douglaston, Queens office – still bearing the former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s name – hoping to be able to see him personally and hand him their petition that he resign for deceiving voters about his background, experience, finances. It is the recess, after all, when Congressmembers are in their home districts to meet with constituents.
But none of the constituents were allowed into the office to meet with him in person even though Santos was inside, according to Vish Burra, who described himself as Santos’ operations director but is more of a bouncer. Nor did Santos come out to meet his constituents.
Instead, Burra called the peaceful gathering a “mob” and said they were impeding access to the office, though no one other than these district residents were anywhere around.
“The Congressman is very busy. I can’t bring him out in front of a mob,” Burra said, and dismissed the thousands of signatures on multiple petitions as “fake constituents.”
About 10 New York City police were on hand, repeatedly pushing the group from one side of the sidewalk to another, finally corralling them behind a barrier.
This reporter was also refused entry to the office or the opportunity to ask Santos to comment on his constituents’ complaints.
The episode only served to validate the constituents’ complaints – they have no representation, no voice in Congress. Not only is their Congressman refusing to speak to them, but the rest of his colleagues in Congress are refusing to have anything to do with him. One might argue the situation violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.
Jody Kass Finkel of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a nonpartisan group that was formed to force Santos from office, instead read the statement she would have delivered directly to Santos to Burra:
“You are a pariah in Long Island. Nobody wants to work with you. We are weakened in our ability to get resources.”
The gathering at Rep. Santos’s District Office in Queens followed last week’s visit to Washington, D.C. by more than 50 NY-03 constituents, many of whom traveled by bus for nearly 10 hours roundtrip to the Capitol, where they were joined by Democratic Congressmembers Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres, but were thwarted in their attempt to see Speaker McCarthy. Two days after the visit, where Santos’s constituents called on Speaker McCarthy to oust Santos, several Democratic Congressmembers introduced a Resolution to expel George Santos from the House of Representatives. That Resolution has been referred to the House Ethics Committee.
They called on Speaker McCarthy to immediately move the Resolution to expel Rep. George Santos to the House Floor for a straight up or down vote.
“The residents of NY-03 will not sit back while that Resolution languishes in the Ethics Committee, which is just being constituted and has yet to hold its first meeting. Meanwhile, the residents of NY-03 are without meaningful representation and the country reels from Santos’s ongoing scandals,” declared Jody Kass Finkel, of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, which organized the action.
“We question the motives of the national GOP in allowing Santos to run, in seating him, and in not moving rapidly to oust him. The timeline shows that Speaker McCarthy and Rep. Stefanik knew a year before the election that Santos was a fraud, and had at least five months to replace him with a credible candidate. And they are still supporting him.”
She charged that McCarthy and Republicans with being content to allow the corruption of government and asked, “How deep does the corruption go?”
“In addition to his serious legal and ethical irregularities, Santos brings a firehose of scandal wherever he goes – from the constant drip of new revelations of old scams – such as his theft of charity funds intended for a veteran’s sick dog, to cheating an Amish dog owner, to new bombshell stories about a staffer Santos hired who accuses him of sexual misconduct. All of this is on top of his insensitive and manipulative claims of being a descendant of Holocaust survivors, having employees that died at the Pulse nightclub and that his mom died as a result of 9/11. Jews, the LGBTQ community, and families of 9/11 victims are outraged that he used their pain for political gain. He is an embarrassment to the entire country and the world is aghast at this spectacle, as well.”
“Republicans now hold all four Congressional seats on Long Island. So it’s reasonable to be skeptical about their ability to get anything done for Long Island, while the Santos scandal is front and center. We are in need of federal resources for roads, bridges, parks, toxic waste cleanups, etc. At the moment, the Long Island delegation is associated with the Santos disaster. When they appear in public, all they are asked about is George Santos. They will be hamstrung in delivering for Long Island until he is gone.
“Let Santos know we will not allow fraud, corruption to be normalized…We are looking to the three Long Island Congressmen – who had a hand in giving McCarthy the speaker’s gavel – to help end this national nightmare.”
Jane Russell of Manhasset, said, “I came to see if the fraudster would have the guts to come out. He does not represent me. More than 78 prcent of constituents said he should resign… This wicked degenerate is now my representative. I’m horrified. He’s a pariah with no credibility… If Santos doesn’t resign, we call on McCarthy to hold a vote to expel.”
Kim Keiserman of Port Washington said, “McCarthy seems to think our district will accept two years of Santos… Like all Americans, we depend on our representative to fight for our interests, values, be a serious participant, dedicated to understanding our problems, and legislating solutions. Not one whose entire time is taken by embarrassing revelations and investigations… We deserve to be represented by someone of personal integrity, who we can trust to tell the truth about his background, experience, campaign finances, and decisions in Congress – not someone who entire life is a lie, a conman with zero credibility with colleagues, a national security threat, who probably will be convicted of several serious crimes. We are not willing to accept having no representative at all. McCarthy, it is time to listen to us, do your job, hold a vote to expel Santos.”
Casey Sabella, an organizer with Courage for America said that Santos is hoping to just sit tight “and we’ll shut up. But we know his lies, the crimes he committed – thank you local press. He can’t represent us. Hold a vote to expel.” Sabella has been organizing constituent petitions and rallies(go to www.whoisgeorgesantos.com).
She pointed to a new national drive launched by Concerned Citizens of NY-03 to have constituents across the country lobby their own Congressmember to get McCarthy to hold a vote to expel Santos (you also (in a humorous way) can see Santos’ lies, one by one.
In the last several weeks, at least 25 separate petitions, with hundreds of thousands of signatures, were initiated calling for his ouster. MoveOn delivered a petition to Santos’s District Office on February 1 which had over 100,000 signatures; the petition delivered last week in Washington had over 1,000 signatures from NY-03 residents; a Change.org petition had over 35,000 signatures. Today’s petition delivered to Rep. Santos is the second tranche of 1,000 signatures from NY-03 residents.
“People in NY-03 and across America are disgusted by Santos’s deceit,” Kass Finkel declared. “Each day that George Santos holds the honorable title of Congressman is an affront to the residents of NY-03, democracy and decency.”
Concerned Citizens of NY-03 is an ad hoc, nonpartisan group of constituents who have come together in their anger at George Santos’s deception with the sole purpose of having Santos removed from the U.S. House of Representatives.
Against a drip, drip, drip of new sensational scandals involving George Santos, and the continuing campaign to pressure on George Santos to resign or Speaker Kevin McCarthy to hold a vote to expel, Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) joined Concerned Citizens of NY-03 in Great Neck to demand the Federal Election Commission launch an investigation into potential illegal activity and irregularities surrounding his campaign finances.
Torres, the Bronx Democrat who introduced the SANTOS Act which would punish candidates who knowingly lie to voters about their background, outlined a web of incestuous relationships between Santos’ campaign, the Devolder Organization, Redstone Strategies and NY Rising.
“Given what we know through public reporting, it is outrageous to me that Mr. Santos was even allowed to be sworn in officially as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Rep. Torres. “But now, there are serious questions that need to be answered surrounding the way in which he supposedly financed his illegitimate campaign for elected office that was built on a web of deception encompassing nearly every facet of his professional and personal life. The American people – and the people of New York’s third congressional district – deserve to be represented by someone who will serve them with honesty, transparency, and integrity. Rep. Santos has proven himself to be not only a habitual liar who’s supremely unqualified to be serving in Congress, but someone who desperately needs to be held accountable for breaking the public’s trust and potentially breaking the law.”
In a letter sent to the chair of the FEC, Rep. Torres requests an investigation into the questionable relationship between Rep. Santos’s campaign and RedStone Strategies, an unregistered fundraising entity whose apparent practices on behalf of the Santos campaign might have contributed to multiple violations of the Federal Election Campaigns Act (FECA) as reported recently by the New York Times.
Rep. Torres was joined in his calls for an FEC investigation by members of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a new nonpartisan group of residents organized around the sole mission of upholding congressional integrity and having Rep. Santos removed from office.
“We are delighted that Rep. Ritchie Torres accepted our invitation to visit NY-03 so we can thank him for his leadership and encourage the FEC to take action to hold Rep. Santos accountable,” said Jody Kass Finkel, founder of Concerned Citizens of NY-03.
“It’s a shame that Speaker Kevin McCarthy thinks it is okay for the more than 700,000 people who live in this district to have no legitimate representation. Rep. Torres understands how insulting it is for us to be told to ‘Live with it. Get over it. Your voice does not matter.’ We will not be silent and deserve to have a representative who tells us the truth. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Rep. Torres to deliver accountability for the people of this district and to finally get Santos the squatter evicted from office once and for all.”
The call for an FEC investigation is just the latest action Rep. Torres has taken to hold Rep. Santos accountable for his growing web of deception that is currently the subject of multiple law enforcement investigations. He previously filed an official complaint against him with the House Ethics Committee and is continuing to demand that Republican House leadership publicly explain what they knew and when about Santos’s seemingly never-ending trail of lies.
Rep. Torres is also sponsoring new legislation that would punish candidates for federal office who knowingly lie to voters about their background.
Meanwhile, Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who was one of the first to demand the U.S. Attorney investigate Santos’ fraudulent campaign finances and disclosures, is now calling for the Department of Homeland Security to revoke Santos’ passport, deeming Santos a high-profile “flight risk”.
“While local, state, and federal prosecutors approach potential indictments against George Santos, international authorities in Brazil have also reopened his criminal case. Given Mr. Santos potentially faces years in prison, there is significant concern that he may eventually seek safe harbor within a country lacking an extradition treaty with the U.S.,” Lazafan stated.
Kevin McCarthy who needed Santos’ vote to fulfill his dream of becoming Speaker and is too fearful to see his margin be whittled down to four, said it would be up to NY3rd constituents to remove Santos (that is, in 2024), while 3rd District constituents continue to rally, protest, petition, calling for Congress to expel Santos.
McCarthy made clear that he values politics and power, not ethics or care to serve the interests of the people, as his Golden Rule. It is almost as if McCarthy has nothing but disdain for actual representation. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, in this case, the Republican caucus, and the ends justify the means. Which makes his Republican caucus’ obsession with investigating Hunter Biden, everything Biden, the January 6 investigators, the FBI all the more shameless and hypocritical.
McCarthy has been careful to bolster Santos, especially because Santos provided the key vote to fulfill his ambition to become Speaker, and has dismissed every allegation, even that a Santos fundraiser impersonated McCarthy’s own aide to stir up donations, with the claim that the investigations have to play out, that everyone deserves due process – expecting the process to last through a two-year Congressional term (just look at the January 6 prosecutions).
And in a big middle finger to the district, the nation, and the institution, McCarthy decided to appoint Santos to two committees: the Small Business committee (because he’s such a genius at “investing in himself” to go from $55,000 to millions of dollars overnight) and the Committee on Space, Science and Technology (where he can do Trump’s bidding and stick it to social media giants, vote to rescind funding for research and development, for renewable energy).
That prompted some to suggest another path for removing Santos: Get every chamber of commerce to start letter writing campaign to have him removed. He can’t represent their interest because of his deceit in everything including his own business.
McCarthy chose to give Santos two important committee assignments despite the precedent of a member under a cloud of investigation being removed from a committee while it plays out, and despite the level of intensity against Santos, who has been referred to the house Ethics committee and the outside, independent committee on Ethics, even as he is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney, New York Attorney General, Nassau County and Queens County district attorneys and the Federal Election Commission.
“This is an extraordinary vote of confidence by McCarthy in Santos,” noted NBC’s senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake.
Think about it: this fraudster whose real resume includes working for a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $17 million, is in a position to affect small business funding (think PPP). And as a member of the Space, Science & Technology committee, he is in a position to extort “campaign” funding from Big Tech in exchange for favorable or unfavorable policies on the social media giants, Elon Musk’s Tesla and Space X, and every institution wanting to get funding for research and development.
Meanwhile, local Republicans have tried to insulate themselves from Santos’ stain on their election prospects by calling for him to resign (knowing that won’t happen), and saying they will refuse to work with him, which will cost the district millions of dollars in federal aid that an effective Congressmember with integrity can bring home.
Besides the $174,000 salary plus per diems for being a Congressman – the most this deadbeat has ever seen – campaign donations present an irresistible bottomless piggybank. He is a vulnerable target for bribery, blackmail and extortion, and a national security risk.
“This country never had imposter seated in Congress before, and with ties to Russian oligarch and questionable finances,” Jody Kass Finkel said at the press conference with Torres. “Santos deceived voters. A liar, cheater, probably criminal. We deserve real representative, not a charlatan. McCarthy insults the 700,000 district residents by [ignoring Santos scandal], instead, says, “Live with it, get over it.
“Well, we aren’t… We understand McCarthy has a narrow majority, but the Speaker does damage to our representative form of government, to our democracy. He says he cares about voter fraud. How about the fraud perpetrated on 700,000 people of district.”
What is McCarthy afraid of, she wondered. “Recent elections show NY3 is competitive, if a free and fair election. But if Santos doesn’t pull out, we lose. How hard will it be for Republican to win a seat after two years of drip, drip revelations, or any Republican for any seat?”
“There are 535 in Congress. Of the 535, no one poses greater threat to integrity of Congress as institution than Santos,” Torres declared.
“My message to Santos: this will not end well for you. Resign to end this nightmare for the nation and the 3rd district, denied representation they deserve.”
Santos, he said, either resigns under the weight of scrutiny or a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney. “He knows he is facing local, state, federal and international investigations. The one that will be the quickest is the US Attorney.
“Stop perpetuating suffering and humiliation of constituents. Allow someone capable of serving in government to step in.”
Offering a kind of mea culpa and looking contrite, Nassau County Republicans stood united in calling for now-Congressman George Santos to resign, condemning Santos for his dishonesty foisted upon voters of the 3rd Congressional District to win election.
The action was viewed as reputational damage control to bolster Republican candidates in upcoming elections.
But aside from declaring that none of them – at the village, town, city, county or state level – would work with Santos and declaring him a person non grata at Republican events (fundraisers), Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo Jr., said there was little they could do. to force Santos out Cairo said he had attempted to call now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (whose election was secured by Santos’ vote), but had yet to receive a reply.
“George Santos has disgraced the House of Representatives and the Republican Party with a veritable profusion of lies, dishonesty, misstatements and hurtful false claims,” Cairo declared. “The people of the 3rd Congressional District deserve a Congressional Representative who is honest and forthright. George Santos is not such a person. It’s time for George Santos to resign his seat in the House of Representatives. He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Committee, he’s not welcome here.”
But Santos remained defiant, tweeting as the press conference was still underway, “I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians, I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I will NOT resign!”
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said she was duped into giving Santos her endorsement., “He betrayed the public trust. He is incapable and unwilling to take responsibility for his lies. There’s no way he can be an effective member of Congress.”
Congressman Anthony D’Esposito, who represents the neighboring district, stated, “Santos violated the trust of voters and people across America.” He offered to help 3rd District constituents on the matters that, according to House rules, have to be handled by a Congressman.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who just a few weeks ago, had Santos stand alongside as he gave a proclamation to Ukraine’s General Consul, spoke up for the people of the district who are “legitimately Jews” and those who are Holocaust survivors or their descendents. “For him to make up a story that his grandparents survived the Holocaust is beyond the pale.”
“George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled,” declared Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips. “George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled. He will never be my congressman, and his resignation should be forthcoming.
Others who denounced Santos included Nassau Legislature’s Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello speaking on behalf of the 12-member majority; Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, State Assemblyman Ed Ra, Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino, and City of Glen Cove Mayor Pam Panzenbeck. They said that none of them would work with Santos.
State Senator Jack Martins, whose pivotal role on New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission led to the redrawing of the 3rd Congressional District from being a “safe” Democratic district that few Republicans came forward to challenge the incumbent to a competitive district, called on Santos to resign. “People of Nassau County deserve better. It’s probably impossible to shame the shameless, to get him to do what is right. But we are united that until he resigns, we will perform our responsibility to represent Nassau County but not work with Santos.”
Asked whether the Santos debacle reflected flaws in the Nassau County Republican Committee’s vetting process, Cairo said that in the 2020 election, when Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi was running for reelection in what was regarded as a safe district that Democrats had led for some decades, Santos was one of the few Republicans who came forward.
“He was recommended by the Queens Republicans. And he submitted a written resume,” Cairo said.
In 2020, Cairo said, “the district was strongly Democrat, and Santos was the designated candidate. When Santos lost in 2020 to Tom Suozzi, “he was angry” and, like Trump, claimed that he had in fact won but blamed his loss on the committee.
Then, in 2022, the Court of Appeals changed the district so it became winnable.
Cairo insisted he did not have an inkling about the falsities into Santos’ background until “it came to light” with the New York Times investigation and other media reports.
“Santos was not someone we knew from Nassau politics. We trusted him. Shame on us.” He said he spoke to Santos once since the deception came to light and Santos has yet to make good on his promise to explain.
“Shame on me for believing him,” Cairo said, promising to revamp the vetting process in the future.
As for the donors who were essentially defrauded, he said “some have connections overseas. Some believed in Republican philosophy, especially when they saw the odds changed, and this became a competitive district we could win.”
Asked why the Republicans are coming forward now to demand Santos resign and not before he was sworn in to Congress, Blakeman said he believed in due process and giving Santos the opportunity to clear his name. “But the situation has become untenable. How do you deal with someone who is an out-and-out liar. I came to the conclusion recently that we don’t need the process to unfold. He needs help. A person who builds lies one on top of another needs help. This is a forgiving country. If he gets help, shows remorse, he will have a future.”
Santos is currently under investigation by the US Attorney’s office, the Federal Election Commission looking into suspected campaign funding violations, the New York State Attorney General, Nassau County District Attorney and Queens County District Attorney, in addition to being wanted by Brazilian authorities. And most recently, two Congressmen called for an Ethics Committee investigation, though McCarthy took care to effectively shut it down. While lying is not a basis for removal (though theoretically, only person of good character are supposed to be sworn into office and putting down a false address on the petition to be put on a ballot is a crime), Santos is also accused of federal crimes stemming from where his funding came from that enabled him to loan his campaign $700,000, when only two years ago, he reported income of $55,000 a year and was evicted for nonpayment of rent twice.
Santos also donated $126,000 to the Republican Committee, which Cairo said was returned to the committee that donated the funds, but other donations that Santos made to the county committee were spent on lawn signs and such.
Just hours after George Santos was sworn in as a member of the house of Representatives, over 100 people gathered outside what he claims to be his office – actually former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s office – on Northern Boulevard in Queens, to demand he resign from Congress, an investigation by the house Ethics committee (the very one that the new speaker, Kevin McCarthy, said he would defund as a concession to the Sedition Caucus). They are calling on Santos to resign and for a special election to be held.
They spoke of having been betrayed, cheated, and more than that, that because Santos is effectively being frozen out of committees, even his own caucus, his constituents have effectively lost representation in Congress, access to federal funding and support. He runs from reporters, won’t answer questions or deal with representatives.
They raised concern that because of his shady finances (how the heck did a man who faced two evictions, reported a salary of $55,000 just two years ago, come to become a millionaire with a multi-million dollar business, and the ability to “loan” his own campaign $700,000, and pay out hundreds of thousands to other campaigns), Santos is a national security threat who cannot serve on any committee involving intelligence. They questioned who Santos is beholden to (at least one of his major donors is related to a sanctioned Russian oligarch), and whether he would be prime to sell secrets.
They raised concerns about undermining trust in government, altogether.
A photo of George Santos using a White Supremacy hand gesture as he raised his other hand to vote for McCarthy, was featured on the sign carried by Susan Naftol of Plainview, that was received as a middle finger to constituents of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and a sign that like Trump, Santos, who at one point said he was descended from refugees of the Holocaust and was “Jew-ish” as well as biracial, would embrace anyone who supported him, White Supremacists, Insurrectionists, included.
Ed Braunstein, State Assemblyman (District 26), and 3rd District resident, declared that when Santos was elected, it was his intention to work with him “for common good. That was before found out Santos was a pathological liar, a national laughingstock. There is no way to work with him, or refer constituents for help, or sign a letter with him, or work with nonprofits to seek funding from him. He is useless. Not effective locally or nationally. He is toxic in Congress – colleagues won’t sit with him. Nobody can work with him. He is compromising us being there. He should do the right thing and resign. Unfortunately, all indications are that is not his interest.
“A few days ago, while voting for Speaker, he flashed a White Power hand gesture. Queens County is the most diverse in the country – we celebrate ethnic, racial, religious diversity, and then, to look and see this clown flash the white power gesture – he is thumbing his nose at us, at his colleagues. It tarnishes the House as an institution. Every other House member should be horrified. Congress has power to open Ethics Investigation [except one of the concessions McCarthy made to get enough votes to become Speaker was to defund the committee].
“We demand Speaker McCarthy open an investigation, now. If Santos, allies think he can just bide his time and this will blow over, he is mistaken. We will protest, hound him until he gives us our seat back, Braunstein declared.
Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for Congress who Santos defeated, declared, “We are here as one to express our anger, frustration. We stand together united to demand Santos resign. We are sending a message to those members of Congress who don’t call on him to resign that they are accomplices. He is threat to national security.”
Veronica Lurvey, a Town of North Hempstead councilmember and the child of political refugees who escaped Soviet tyranny in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, declared that The Soviet regime was a regime built on lies. Lies the government told the people, and lies that the people told each other. This lead to a weakening of the social fabric…a weakening of civil society….and the rise of massive corruption that is difficult to eradicate.
“Luckily my parents were able to flee the Soviet regime and got their start in Astoria, Queens. As a first generation American, born in the US – actually I was born in NYC, I have internalized the core American values of hard work, decency and honesty.
“Mr. Santos’ lies make a mockery of every one of us whose families came to this country to achieve the American dream. What’s more, Mr. Santos’ lies erode the trust that we have in our elected officials. To get anything done in government, you need to be able to negotiate, to speak with honesty. When deals fall apart because of lies, who would be stupid enough to try to enter a deal again? Honesty is the basis of any relationship and without honesty relationships fail. Mr. Santos, your relationship with the people of the 3rd Congressional district in NY has failed. You have been caught cheating. Cheating cannot be tolerated.
“I am here to say that for the sake of the soul of the American dream, for all the immigrants who came to the United States and worked around the clock like my parents did…I call for a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee into Mr. Santos and his background. We cannot let Santos’ lies and dishonesty erode the America that we love, the America that our families looked to as a beacon of hope. Cheaters must not be rewarded,” Lurvey declared.
The constituents are not just protesting and holding rallies, they are taking action.
A nonpartisan group, Concerned Citizens of NY Congressional District 3, has been formed, circulating petitions calling for Santos’ ouster and a free and fair special election to replace him. They are demanding the US Justice Department prosecute Santos for fraud, the House Ethics Committee to investigate, and local and national Republican leders to repudiate Santos and refuse to seat him.
“This is not partisan,” said the founder, Jody Kass Finkel. “both Democrat and Republican residents feel deceived by Santos’ lies. Recognizing that no one in Washington D.C. will believe anything Santos says, constituents of NY-03 are concerned that they will not have a voice in Congress and will be shut out of critical federal support and services.”
She supplied statements from numerous constituents registering their outrage, sense of betrayal.
“People didn’t have the truth about who this guy was. In my 30-plus years in the nonprofit world lobbying for environmental, health and affordable housing issues in Washington and Albany, I’ve never seen anyone with such an arrogant contempt for the truth or his constituents. While the whole country is aghast at Santos’ lies and utter disregard for decency, the residents of NY-03 have the most to lose,” Finkel declared.
“The Constitution provides for Americans to elect their representative. The representative we got lied, is unqualified, a fugitive conman, a grifter.”
She said that the group is researching the law even citing the Adam Clayton Powell case in the Supreme Court that kept Powell in office. ”That decision hung on what was the will of the people. Santos is not the will of the people.”
She presented statements from numerous district constituents:
“George Santos is sending the exact wrong message to young people across the country,” stated 18-year old activist and college student Aidan Davis. “If he isn’t held accountable, he demonstrates that our system deems it acceptable to lie about accomplishments, fabricate entire backgrounds and work histories, and generally be dishonest in order to get ahead. He must resign.”
Shari Markovich of Little Neck stated, “George Santos duped his constituents and was elected under false pretenses, fabricating his resume and blatantly lying about his background and credentials. This is criminal and we cannot allow this person to represent our district. There needs to be a new election.”
Casey Sabella, who organized the protest in coordination with up with Courage for America, offered a call to action for those inside and beyond the district to demand an investigation. She produced buttons with a QR code that leads to a letter online at www.whoisgeorgesantos.com. Wear button everywhere, talk to everyone, sign the letter. Continue to talk on social media, talk to everyone, write a letter to the editor. Make clear constituents won’t allow him to hide.”
Asked if he feels cheated out of being elected to US Congress, the Democrat Robert Zimmerman who was defeated by Republican George Santos now being exposed as a fraudster who falsified his career and finances, was emphatic that it was the constituents, the political process and democracy itself Santos cheated.
“It’s not about me,” Zimmerman declared. “It’s about restoring integrity to our political process. The fact Santos thought he could get away with it – this is the antidote. The fact we’re here.”
And they came out in sizable numbers for a press conference at rally in front of the Nassau County Courthouse, calling for Santos to resign and for the Republican leadership to refuse to seat him, and carrying signs including “Make lying wrong again,” “Santos lies. Democracy dies.” “Follow the money.”
Prosecutors at the federal, state and local level have already announced investigations into how Santos, who only two years ago reported earning $55,000 a year, managed to loan his campaign $700,000 and declare income and assets in the multi-millions of dollars.
State Assemblyman Charles Lavine reflected that everyone gathered has the same trauma as any victim of a crime, a fraud, a Ponzi scheme. “the difference is the first few get some of their money back, but we, the citizens of the 3rd District are left holding the bag, the laughingstock of the United States and international community.”
Greg Leung, a youth activist from Great Neck and freshman at Boston University where he is studying political science and is thinking about entering government or politics, reflected the feelings of many young people, new voters, who have a right to be disillusioned, jaded, cynical about the political process.
“As a first generation American, in the extraordinary position of a Congressman elect, you are living the American Dream, a set of ideals that those who came before fought so vehemently to defend. The American Dream is an ideal nurtured over centuries – Government for, by the people with integrity. Lately, people like you resorted to deception to take power, eroding the American Dream you vowed to defend in the campaign. You lied for your own gain. Most vile, you lied about the Holocaust and mass shooting…. What do you say to those around here who depend on government to protect their version of the American Dream? Resigning is the way to preserve the American Dream,” Leung said.
Linda Beigel Schulman, who is a daughter of an actual Holocaust survivor as well as the victim of her son’s murder by the Parkland shooter, “1800 days ago,” spoke of the pain and trauma of being re-victimized by Santos’ false claims of his grandparents having fled the Holocaust and having had four employees killed in the Pulse Nightclub massacre.
My father lived in Ukraine, in Kiev. He slept in the forest, in bomb craters evading Nazis for years. He went to Canada and then the US. Others in his family were not so lucky. He would not speak of it, except in an interview by Spielberg’s organization.
“It is insulting and demeaning to every child of a Holocaust survivor. “How dare you lie about being a child of Holocaust survivors, or being Jew-ish? You lied about having four employees at Pulse. How dare he try to gain sympathy. I know all too well the sense of loss, the grief from gun violence.
“Lying has become commonplace and worse, accepted. Outright lying shouldn’t be accepted by anyone. Integrity matters,” she declared. “Lies are analogous to a virus, afflicting pain, fever, sometimes killing the host. We the people have become an infected host. If we accept lying from political leaders, it will surely destroy our fiber. The antidote is we the people, here today. We are the antidote. This country was founded on We the people, not lies.’
Schulman thanked Republicans Nassau County Executive Blakeman, DA Donnelly, incoming Congressmen Anthony D’Esposito and Nick Lalota for speaking out, calling for a full investigation.
“This is not a matter of politics or party. It is about right versus wrong, lying versus trust, deception versus honesty. NY 3rd needs a Congressman who is honest, who we can trust.”
Rabbi Deborah Bravo of the MakomNY Worship Center in Bethpage, said Santos’ lies about his Jewish ancestry were particularly offensive. “To lie about being descendants of Holocaust survivors for the purpose of political gain is beyond unacceptable..No one has the right to presume this ancestry for the purpose of political gain and empathy from constituents.”
State Senator Anna Kaplan cast blame on the Republicans at the local and federal level who propped Santos up and who are complicit in Santos’ fraud.
“George Santos has perpetrated a complete and total fraud on our community, but we cannot forget that for the last three years, he was enabled and supported by the entire Nassau County Republican machine and his Republican running mates, many of whom sit in elected office today and others who will soon take office. The questions about exactly who George Santos are not new, but they were brushed aside and minimized by local Republicans desperate to flip this congressional seat at any cost.
“Our entire community has been victimized, and we demand accountability. George Santos must be investigated by all appropriate authorities, particularly surrounding his shady business dealings and mystery millions that seem to have appeared overnight despite having no legitimate career to speak of. The outstanding criminal charges against George Santos in Brazil must be answered for. And we all deserve an apology for his reprehensible lies about his nonexistent Jewish faith and his completely fake connection to the Holocaust.
“To allow George Santos to be seated as a member of Congress would be a further knife in the heart of this community, and I’m urging Congressional Republican leadership to stop that from happening while investigations are ongoing.”
Kaplan added, “I’m also calling on every Republican in Nassau County who stood with this man over the course of the last three years to apologize to the voters, and renounce their support, along with every organization who endorsed his candidacy.”
Lavine noted, “Each of us is a victim of fraud – whoever represents the 3rd district acts not just for 3rd but the United States. But top of the list of victims of Santos’ fraud is Robert Zimmerman.”
“I am angry and frustrated too,” Zimmerman declared. “But the answer is all of us. Standing here today, demanding a House ethics investigation, investigations at federal, state and local levels, making sure Santos does not stay in Congress. That’s not Democratic or Republican politics. It’s about protecting democracy, standing up for justice against corruption and Santos’ fraud. At stake: democracy, faith in the integrity of our political system, the American Dream.”
At least one in the crowd of hundreds was a Republican who not only voted for George Santos, but helped elect him.
Teodora Choolfaian said she left the Democratic party, registered Republican and backed Santos over the issue of COVID-mitigation in public schools. Santos came to the rallies she held, and seemed to embrace her call to end mask mandates in school.
But at the rally calling for Santos to resign, she said she believed she had been deceived by Santos. One of her concerns is the source of Santos’ funding – as recently as 2020, he reported a salary of $55,000. In this cycle, his financial disclosures reported a salary of $750,000 plus assets of millions of dollars, without accounting for the source.
She now is calling upon him to resign “Santos is worse than you think,” she told reporters.
She will tell Santos as much when she sees him at the swearing in, at the Capitol on January 3, to which she has been invited.
Indeed, Santos’ campaign finance disclosures are now being investigated by the US Attorney, the New York State Attorney General and the Nassau County District Attorney.
A search of the FEC.gov database shows that Santos raised $2.933,614 for his 2022 campaign, including $1,001,151 in itemized individual contributions, $464,406 in unitemized individual contributions, $12,950 in party committee contributions, $247,551 in other committee contributions, $487,258 in transfers from other authorized committees, $705,000 in loans the candidate made to himself.
While a sitting congressman cannot be removed for lying about his background – though the House Ethics committee might see fit to censure him – actual federal crimes are another matter. But investigation and prosecution would take months, possibly years. So New York’s 3rd Congressional district may have to be resigned to waiting to 2024.