Ethics Committee to announce ‘next course of action’ in Santos investigation by Nov. 17

The Ethics Committee on Tuesday said it will “announce its next course of action” in its investigation into Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) on or before Nov. 17.

The panel’s scheduling update comes days before the House is set to vote on a resolution to expel the embattled freshman lawmaker, who is facing 23 criminal counts on a range of allegations, including misleading donors, fraudulently receiving unemployment benefits and lying on House financial disclosures. He has pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial in September 2024.

The announcement from the Ethics Committee, which has been investigating Santos for months, may influence how some lawmakers vote on the effort to expel Santos, which could hit the floor as soon as Wednesday.

House leadership, now under the helm of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), can either bring the resolution to the floor — which would require two-thirds support to succeed — or motion to table or refer the resolution to committee, both of which would need a majority vote. Johnson has not announced his plans for the legislation.

A group of New York Republicans moved to force a vote on ousting Santos last week, setting the stage for the second vote on his expulsion this year. In May, the House voted to refer a Democrat-led resolution to remove Santos to the Ethics Committee, a move that was panned by many as toothless because the panel had already launched an investigation into Santos.

The New York Republicans, who for months have called for Santos to resign or be expelled, voted in favor of sending the resolution to the Ethics Committee, deferring to the panel’s ongoing proceedings.

But last week, the New York Republicans said it was time to oust Santos from the House — despite not having a report from the Ethics Committee — pointing to a guilty plea from the Congressman’s former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks. Earlier this month, Marks pleaded guilty to conspiring with the then-candidate to fraudulently inflate his campaign finance reports.

Santos was then charged with 10 new criminal counts on accusations that he inflated his campaign finance reports and charged donors’ credit cards without authorization.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) told reporters last week “we’re waiting for the Ethics report, which we’re hearing is supposed to be very soon.” Asked why he would not wait until the panel wraps up its investigation, D’Esposito pointed to Marks’s guilty plea.

“The reason why we dropped the resolution three weeks ago, we dropped it the same day, if not within 24 hours of [the] latest indictments,” D’Esposito said. “As everyone has said before, you know, the guilty plea on the point of his treasurer I think says enough, and that’s really what triggered this resolution.”

In a Monday interview on “The Hill on NewsNation,” D’Esposito said, “I think there is an opportunity for it to pass, because I think we have an opportunity to set a new precedent.”

Santos has reiterated that he will not resign amid the increased legal and political pressure, writing last week in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: “Three points of clarification: 1. I have not cleared out my office. 2. I’m not resigning. 3. I’m entitled to due process and not a predetermined outcome as some are seeking. God bless!”

The Ethics Committee announced in early March that it had launched an investigation into Santos. The panel, according to Tuesday’s statement, has reviewed accusations that the congressman “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; engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office; and/or fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits.”

In June, the panel expanded its investigation to include allegations of Santos fraudulently obtaining unemployment insurance benefits.

On Tuesday, the panel said it has “contacted approximately 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents, and authorized 37 subpoenas.”

“The Committee’s nonpartisan staff and the ISC Members have put countless hours into this investigation, which has been a priority for the investigative team and involved a significant amount of the Committee’s resources,” the statement added.

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