Embattled U.S. representative George Santos on Thursday said he won't run for reelection shortly after a damning report by his fellow lawmakers referred "additional uncharged and unlawful conduct" by him to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.
Santos, 35, a first-term lawmaker from the New York area, has already pleaded not guilty to a 23-count federal indictment accusing him of an array of corruption, including 10 felony counts that prosecutors added in October.
"I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed. I will however NOT be seeking re-election for a second term in 2024," Santos said in a post on social media. "My family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time."
His announcement came shortly after the House of Representatives' Ethics Committee released the report concluding Santos's conduct "is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought severe discredit upon the House."
The panel's Republican chairman, Michael Guest, intends to file a motion on Friday to expel him, according to media reports.
Santos survived an expulsion vote early this month.
The congressman's office did not immediately return a request for comment. A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment.
Santos came under scrutiny even before taking office in January after the New York Times and other media reported he had fabricated much of his résumé and life story.
His fellow House Republicans held him at arm's length, but have not yet expelled him, needing the seat to protect their narrow 221-213 margin. That slim majority gives them the power to block much of Democratic president Joe Biden's agenda.
Santos has faced especially fierce criticism from his fellow New York Republicans in Congress. One of them, Representative Mike Lawler, said he should resign immediately or be forced out. "His conduct is not only unbecoming and embarrassing, it is criminal," Lawler said.
Santos dismissed complaints that he had lied about his education, his work history, and his family as mere résumé embellishment, and continued to serve in a Congress where he had no committee assignments and little influence.
The Ethics Committee said it had uncovered "substantial evidence" that campaign funds were converted to personal use.
The additional conduct referred to the Justice Department includes falsely reported loans received by his failed 2020 campaign, improper loan repayments, and "systemic reporting errors" in both his 2020 and 2022 campaigns, the report said.
The report found that Santos "sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit," adding that "despite his attempts to blame others for much of the misconduct, Representative Santos was a knowing and active participant in the wrongdoing."
The report also said Santos declined to cooperate with the committee's investigation.
The Ethics Committee has been investigating him for months, having contacted about 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents, and authorized 37 subpoenas.
Among other claims, Santos said he had degrees from New York University and Baruch College in Manhattan, despite neither institution having any record of him attending. He claimed to have worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, which was also untrue.
He said falsely that he was Jewish and that his grandparents escaped the Nazis during World War Two.
Following those and other revelations, Santos apologized for "embellishing" his résumé, while defending aspects of the way he had represented himself. He has since described himself as "Jew-ish" rather than "Jewish" when discussing his heritage, telling the New York Post that he described himself that way because his "maternal family had a Jewish background."
In the political campaign scheme for which Santos was indicted, prosecutors said he laundered donations into his own personal bank accounts and used thousands of dollars to pay for personal expenses, from luxury clothing to credit card payments.
He also is accused of repeatedly making false statements about his income in forms he filed with the House.
Santos's congressional district contains parts of New York City's Queens borough and Long Island's Nassau County just east of the city.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton; additional reporting by Andrew Goudsward, Gram Slattery, and Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andy Sullivan)
Published under: George Santos