U.S. Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) has penned an op-ed for NBC News calling fellow New York Congressman George Santos, the sole gay Republican in Congress, a “danger to democracy.”
Santos has come under fire after admitting to embellishing parts of his résumé and biography, including his work and educational history. He has also been accused of lying about his family heritage, business dealings, his health history, his criminal history, whether or not he owns property, and even how he makes his money. He currently faces at least two investigations — by local and federal authorities — looking into his campaign finances, while Brazilian authorities have indicated they intend to reopen a case involving allegations of check fraud against the freshman congressman.
In the op-ed, Torres calls Santos’s candidacy “a fraud, predicated on a massive web of deception,” and says that Santos should resign from office, but notes that Santos has indicated, in an interview with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Steve Bannon’s War Room program, that he does not intend to step down, claiming he’s led an “honest life.”
“It boggles the mind how anyone who has methodically misled the public to this magnitude could be trusted to exercise the duties of his congressional office in good faith,” Torres writes. “Every American should worry about the risk of Santos having access to classified information — and what he might do with it.
“The presence of this man in Congress is a danger to our democracy and national security, a disgrace to this institution, and a major distraction from the pressing problems that are far more worthy of our time, energy and attention,” Torres continues. “It’s time for Santos to recognize that he cannot serve the public he defrauded. His ability to govern has been weakened by a complete collapse of credibility.”
Torres also decries the lack of calls for Santos’s resignation from Republicans, noting that, although a few GOP members of Congress from New York — most of whom are in competitive districts — have called for Santos’s resignation, national leaders, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have been largely silent. Recent reporting by The New York Times claims that high-ranking Republicans were aware of Santos’s misrepresentations and falsehoods well in advance of last year’s midterm elections.
Additionally, recently passed House rules approved by the Republican majority have taken aim at weakening the Office of Congressional Ethics, which could make it harder to launch ethics investigations of members.
“The right’s acceptance of Santos is a function of power politics rather than ethics: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy needs every vote he can get, and he needs George Santos to remain in power. Simply put, House Republican leadership is in no rush to drain the Santos swamp,” Torres writes.
Torres also noted that he and fellow New York Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman had previously filed an official complaint against Santos with the House Ethics Committee, demanding an investigation into possible violations of House ethics rules and campaign finance law. The two also partnered to introduce the “Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker” — or SANTOS — Act, which would require federal candidates to provide truthful information about their backgrounds in campaign filings, with fines or prison time for those who violate the law.
Adding that requiring truthfulness from public officials should not be a partisan matter, Torres urgees his colleagues to push for Santos’s expulsion or demand further answers regarding his campaign and personal finances, calling his fellow New Yorker a “master manipulator and liar.”
On Tuesday morning, Torres held a news conference on Long Island, in conjunction with the group “Concerned Citizens of NY-03,” calling on the Federal Election Commission to launch yet another investigation into alleged irregularities in Santos’s campaign finances that may indicate possible illegal activity.
“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,” Torres said in a prepared statement. “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.”
In a letter sent to the chair of the FEC, Torres demanded an investigation into the relationship between Santos’s campaign and RedStone Strategies, an unregistered fundraising entity that reportedly helped raise money on behalf of the campaign — which could constitute a violation of federal election law, according to a separate exposé by the Times.
Jody Kass Finkel, the founder of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, which ultimately seeks Santos’s ouster from Congress, praised Torres’s actions demanding an FEC investigation into Santos’s campaign dealings.
“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,” Kass Finkel said in a statement. “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.”
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