An ethics panel in the United States House of Representatives is investigating a Republican Congressman over a litany of falsehoods about his education, profession, cultural background and financial dealings that have attracted scrutiny since his election in 2022.
The House Ethics Committee made the announcement on Thursday and its probe appears to be wide in scope. Santos has consistently said he will not heed calls to resign from office.
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The investigation will seek to determine whether Santos “engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office”, the committee said in a statement.
The congressman has previously admitted to fabricating key details about his professional and personal background. Based on its findings, the panel could recommend penalties such as a fine or formal censure.
The committee’s statement notes that “the mere fact of establishing an Investigative Subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred”.
Santos falsely claimed he held a degree from Baruch College in New York and that he had worked at financial groups like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. He also stated that his grandparents had “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII”.
A Jewish news outlet, The Forward, cast doubt on those claims, prompting Santos to say that he never claimed to be Jewish, only “Jew-ish”, in a widely panned comment.
The congressman also faces questions about his financial history but has consistently pushed back against calls that he resign from office, despite pressure to do so from Democrats and members of his own party.
Earlier this month, Santos announced he would temporarily step down from his two committee assignments: one on small business and the other on science, space and technology.
In a statement at the time, Santos said he remained “committed to serving the district, and delivering results for both New York’s Third Congressional District and for the American people”.