(CNN) – Leaders of the Nassau County Republican Party on Wednesday urged Rep. George Santoswho was elected to represent the 3rd congressional district of New York in November, to resign because of his lies to voters and fabrications about his personal life.
“Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I call for his immediate resignation,” Chairman Joseph G. Cairo said at a press conference on Long Island. He was joined by a number of local party officials and, away from Washington, DC, Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who also called for Santos’ resignation.
Cairo said the congressman’s campaign consisted of “deceit, lies and fabrications”.
“He deceived voters,” said Cairo. “His lies weren’t lies. He disgraced the House of Representatives… He is not welcome here at Republican headquarters.”
Moments after the news broke, Santos, who was in Washington at the time, refused to resign.
“I won’t,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill when asked if he would step down. He refused to answer any more questions as he entered an elevator.
Top Republicans in the House of Representatives — Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Majority Whip Tom Emmer — did not answer questions from CNN about Santos and the Nassau County GOP’s resignation calls.
A source close to the GOP leadership in the House of Representatives said the calls from the county GOP would not affect their decision regarding Santos’ political future.
The source said Republican leaders are far more aware of the fact that a Santos resignation would trigger a special election in a Biden-won district and give Democrats a real chance of winning it, which the House GOP’s razor-thin majority has would make it even slimmer. Santos turned the seat over in November.
“So right now it’s a simple numbers game for leadership,” the source said.
Nassau County GOP officials said constituent calls in the county are being rerouted from Santos to D’Esposito’s office and that Santos has been completely cut off from the party. But Cairo, the leader, said he did not speak to McCarthy – who enjoyed Santos’ support in his fight to win the speakership last week – and did not immediately propose a candidate for a possible special election to replace Santos.
“There is no vacancy at the moment and it is a premature question,” said Cairo. He added that he has not spoken to Santos since the first report questioning his background. State Sen. Jack Martins is among the rumored favorites should the seat become vacant, though his remarks expressed doubts Santos would leave.
“It’s probably impossible to shame the shameless,” Martins said.
When asked why the party backed Santos in both 2020 and 2022, Cairo acknowledged that its review process was inadequate but repeatedly noted that Santos was from Queens and had been vouched for by the party there.
“He wasn’t someone we knew,” Cairo said. “We trusted him and we were ashamed of it.”
The state’s messy redistribution process also helped Santos escape serious scrutiny. In 2020, Democrat Tom Suozzi, who has since resigned, was considered invulnerable under the old cards.
“People didn’t kick down the door to run away,” said Cairo, given Suozzi’s strength. Two years later, a belated court order to redraw the distorted county lines limited the county party’s options, he added.
Describing the extent of the deception, Cairo claimed Santos “told me once that he was a star on the Baruch (college) volleyball team.” (Santos never attended school.)
A barrage of complaints
Santos’ call for resignation is just the latest hurdle the GOP freshman congressman has faced in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, New York Representatives Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman filed a formal complaint with the House Ethics Committee requesting an investigation related to Santos’ financial reports. In response, Santos insisted he had “done nothing unethical.”
And on Monday, the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign monitoring group, Filed a complaint with the Federal Electoral Commission against Santos. The group accused him of illegally using campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, concealing the source of more than $700,000, and his campaign of falsifying the use of campaign funds.
Other complaints have been filed by groups including American Bridge 21st Century, a Democrat-aligned group that has called for an investigation into financial reports Santos filed as a candidate with the US House of Representatives. Liberal advocacy group End Citizens United has also claimed Santos failed to file accurate and complete financial disclosure reports.
In addition, the congressman’s personal finances are under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York.
Santos has faced growing criticism after The New York Times first reported last month that Santos’ biography appeared to be partially fictional. CNN corroborated claims Santos made about his education and work history and found the same discrepancies.
Santos admitted to lying about attending Baruch College and New York University and misrepresenting his tenure at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, but maintained he had committed no crimes, in interviews with WABC Radio and the New York Post last month .
In a separate matter, CNN also confirmed the Times’ reporting that Santos was charged with embezzlement in a Brazilian court in 2011, according to case files from the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice. However, court records from 2013 say the charges were filed after the court’s subpoena went unanswered and they were unable to locate Santos.
In an interview with the New York Post, Santos denied that he had been charged with any crimes in Brazil.
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