Metro Weekly

George Santos Recuses Himself from Committee Assignments

Embattled congressman's decision coincides with more negative press and a poll showing most of his constituents want him to resign.

George Santos – Photoillustration: Todd Franson/Metro Weekly

U.S. Rep. George Santos has reportedly told his Republican colleagues that he plans to recuse himself from his committee assignments. The openly gay congressman will voluntarily remove himself from participating in hearings, until ongoing investigations against him are resolved. 

Santos, who has come under scrutiny for various resumé and biographical fabrications he has admitted to making on the campaign trail, on his website, and in public appearances, is the subject of at least two separate investigations — one federal and one local — into his campaign finances. He also faces an ethics complaint filed against him by two fellow New York congressmen, Democrats Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman.

Santos was assigned seats on the House Small Business and Science, Space and Technology Committees, despite calls from activists for his resignation or for Republicans to expel him from their ranks.

But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has sidestepped questions about Santos, saying it’s “not my role” to censure or expel him, and noting that the House will take action only if the Ethics Committee determines the 34-year-old congressman has broken the law, according to NBC News.

“You know why I’m standing by him? Because his constituents voted for him,” McCarthy said. “I do not have the power simply because if I disagree with somebody or what they have said that I remove them from elected office.”

The various investigations being launched into the congressman’s campaign and personal finances — as well as questions about his spending habits — appear to have convinced the congressman to remove himself from the spotlight, if not from Congress.

According to NBC News, two GOP lawmakers said that Santos shared his decision to recuse himself from his committee assignments during a closed-door meeting with the House GOP Conference. A spokesperson for Santos later confirmed the decision with NBC.

News of Santos’s decision comes just a day after The New York Times, which broke the initial story about Santos’s alleged deceptions and fabrications, reported that his district office in Queens appears to be operating with a small staff of four to deal with constituents’ requests.

A detached blue cubicle wall currently obstructs the window view into the office and the name of Santos’s predecessor, former Congressman Tom Suozzi, is still emblazoned on the awning above the office — details that imply Santos may not be planning to stay for long in the office he currently holds. 

The announcement of Santos’s plan to recuse himself also coincides with the release of a poll by Newsday and Siena College that states 78% of voters in Santos’s 3rd Congressional District — including 71% of Republicans and 72% of independents — want him to resign.

According to the poll, Santos is viewed unfavorably by 83% of the voters in the district, with only 7% viewing him favorably.

More than 7 in 10 voters do not believe Santos can be an effective representative and that it was wrong to seat him on committees, reports NBC News.

The poll also offers what appears to be a damning statistic — that 63% of voters who backed Santos in November’s election say they wouldn’t have voted for him if they knew what they know now.

“NY-3 voters overwhelmingly and unambiguously say Rep. Santos should resign. Whether you look it at by party, gender, race, age, religion, income, or which county the voters live in, the answer is the same: resign,” Siena College Poll Director Don Levy said in a statement.

Torres, another openly gay congressman who has been among the loudest detractors of Santos, issued a statement responding to the news of the recusal.

“Why is he stopping there? Half-measures like voluntarily taking himself off his committee assignments are not good enough for the people of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, or for the American people,” Torres said.

“Rep. Santos has time and time again proven himself to be a habitual liar who willfully and knowingly defrauded the voters — and potentially engaged in criminal activity — to reach elected office. He was a disgrace yesterday. He’s a disgrace today. And he’ll be a disgrace tomorrow,” Torres said. “He should resign from office immediately.”

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