At least seven state, federal and congressional entities have received formal complaints about or are said to be looking into embattled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) as he faces mounting questions about his background and finances.
The New York Republican has admitted to embellishing parts of his resume — including details about his education and employment history.
Lawmakers in both parties have called on Santos to resign amid the growing controversy, but the congressman insists he has not committed any crimes and has remained intent on serving out his term representing New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
“Let me be very clear, I’m not leaving, I’m not hiding and I am NOT backing down,” Santos wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “I will continue to work for #NY03 and no amount of Twitter trolling will stop me. I’m looking forward to getting what needs to be done, DONE!”
Here are the groups who have received complaints or launched probes into the congressman:
Groups looking into Santos
Nassau County District Attorney
The Nassau County district attorney’s office announced it was looking into Santos in December, days after The New York Times published a report highlighting questionable aspects of the then-incoming congressman’s background.
Since then, more evidence has emerged showing that Santos fabricated parts of his background.
Asked for an update this week, the district attorney’s office — which is led by a Republican — referred The Hill to its statement from December.
“The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-Elect Santos are nothing short of stunning,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said at the time. “The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress. No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”
U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York
Multiple sources reported in December that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York was looking into Santos’s finances and financial disclosures.
That inquiry now appears to include whether Santos was part of an alleged scheme to steal thousands of dollars from a fundraiser set up for a veteran’s dying service dog.
Last month, U.S. Navy veteran Richard Osthoff and retired police Sgt. Michael Boll told Patch.com that Santos helped raise money through a GoFundMe for a surgery for Osthoff’s dog. But the pair said that once the fund reached $3,000, Santos closed it and disappeared.
Osthoff told Politico earlier this month that two agents, working on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, had contacted him about the incident. He gave the agents text messages sent between him and Santos in 2016, according to Politico.
Asked about the Politico report earlier this month, Santos said “clearly they talk more to you guys than to my legal team.”
“I can’t give you anything ‘cause they don’t talk to us,” he added.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York declined to comment this week when asked by The Hill if the office has opened an investigation into Santos.
New York State Attorney General
The New York state attorney general’s office confirmed to The Hill that it is “looking into some of the issues that were raised” regarding Santos, but would not say what matters are under scrutiny.
Queens District Attorney
The Queens district attorney’s office told the Queens Chronicle in January that it was reviewing whether District Attorney Melinda Katz (D) has jurisdiction over any allegations against Santos.
“While as a matter of course we do not comment on open investigations, we are reviewing whether Queens County has jurisdiction over any potential criminal offenses,” Katz’s office told the outlet.
Reached for comment this week, the office told The Hill, “Our statement remains the same.”
Authorities in Brazil have reportedly reopened a criminal investigation into Santos that dates back to 2008.
A spokeswoman for the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office told The New York Times last month that it planned to formally request that the Justice Department notify Santos of the charges against him.
According to Brazilian court records cited by the Times, Santos in 2008 — when he was 19 years old — stole a checkbook that belonged to a man his mother cared for. Santos then reportedly made illicit purchases totaling almost $700, including a pair of shoes, using the checkbook and a fake name.
He admitted to the crime to police in 2010, according to the Times, and in 2011, a judge approved a charge against him. The court and Brazilian prosecutor told the newspaper the case was still unsettled.
Santos told the New York Post in December, “I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world.”
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. on Jan. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Groups likely to look into Santos
House Ethics Committee
The House Ethics Committee is widely expected to open an investigation into Santos after receiving two complaints regarding the congressman. The panel, however, has not officially organized yet, so it is unable to launch a probe.
In January, two New York Democrats — Reps. Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman — filed an ethics complaint against Santos, accusing him of failing to file timely, accurate and complete financial disclosure reports.
The complaint zeroed in on Santos’s claims that he earned more than $1 million in dividends from his company, the Devolder Organization, per year, while noting that his financial data company Dun & Bradstreet estimated the company to have a revenue of $43,688 as of July 20, 2022.
Asked about the complaint the morning it was filed, Santos said “I have done nothing unethical,” adding that “they’re free to do whatever they want to do.”
In a separate complaint to the Ethics Committee this month, a prospective staffer of Santos’s accused the congressman of sexual misconduct. Derek Myers also requested an ethics probe “into the violation of allowing a volunteer to work in the workplace and offload work from paid staff members onto the volunteer with the promise of future employment.” He posted a copy of the Ethics complaint on Twitter.
Santos said he “a hundred percent” denies the sexual misconduct allegations, calling them “comical.”
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has stopped short of calling on Santos to resign, telling reporters last month, “If there is a concern, and he has to go through the Ethics, let him move through that.”
The Speaker caused a stir last week when he told CNN that the panel was investigating the congressman. Shortly after, however, he walked back the claim and said he meant to say that complaints have been filed about Santos.
“There are questions. I expect them to get answered,” he said when asked if he expects the panel to launch an investigation into Santos.
It is unclear when the Ethics Committee will officially organize and kick off business for the 118th Congress. According to House rules, committees must hold an open meeting at the beginning of a new Congress to establish rules before beginning official business.
In 2021 the panel held the organizational meeting on Feb. 25, in 2019 it took place on Feb. 27 and, in 2017, it occurred on March 9.
Groups that have received a complaint about Santos
Federal Elections Commission (FEC)
The Campaign Legal Center — a nonpartisan ethics watchdog — filed a complaint against Santos with the FEC in January, alleging the first-term congressman and his 2022 campaign committee violated federal campaign finance laws.
The group accused Santos of taking part in a straw donor scheme to hide the sources of a loan he made to his campaign, of purposely falsifying numbers on his disclosure reports and of wrongfully using his campaign funds for personal reasons.
Asked this week if the agency has opened an investigation into Santos, the FEC told The Hill it is “unable to disclose any information about a potential or existing enforcement matter until after the matter has been resolved” because of “the confidentiality requirements surrounding the enforcement process.”
But late last month, The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department asked the FEC to hold off on taking enforcement action against Santos, since prosecutors were working on a similar criminal investigation. The Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section made the request, two people familiar with the matter told the Post.
The Justice Department also asked the FEC to hand over any relevant documents, according to the Post.