Local Republican leaders in New York have called on disgraced United States Congressman George Santos to resign immediately, amid revelations that the newly elected lawmaker fabricated parts of his biography, as well as speculation about his campaign conduct and finances.
Joseph Cairo, the Republican Committee chairman for New York’s Nassau County, where Santos’s district is based, told reporters on Wednesday that Santos’s 2022 election campaign was one of “deceit, lies and fabrications”.
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Santos had falsely claimed that he was Jewish and that he graduated from university and worked at top financial firms.
“He’s disgraced the House of Representatives, and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople,” Cairo said of Santos on Wednesday. “Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling for his immediate resignation.”
Santos, who won a House seat in New York’s Third Congressional District in the November midterm elections, has been facing an avalanche of criticism and mounting calls to quit Congress since The New York Times revealed the inconsistencies in his resume late last year.
On Wednesday, Jennifer DeSena, supervisor of the Town of North Hempstead in Nassau County, also called on Santos to step down.
“The lies George Santos told are too numerous to count. He lied to me personally, when he sought my endorsement. And while I’m offended and disgusted at his deceit, my true concern is for the residents of the Third Congressional District,” DeSena said.
“He has betrayed the public’s trust and given insincere, glib and insulting answers when asked legitimate questions about his finances and his background.”
Santos has acknowledged that he made false claims during the campaign, but he dismissed the affair as merely “embellishing” his resume. In previous media appearances, he vowed to serve in Congress and deliver on the policy priorities that he campaigned on, including addressing inflation.
The freshman legislator has also denied doing anything illegal.
Critics have been especially outraged at Santos’s claim that his grandparents “survived the Holocaust”.
“I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish’,” the congressman told the New York Post last month in response to accusations that he fabricated his Jewish heritage.
Joseph Saladino, a supervisor for the Town of Oyster Bay in New York, said on Wednesday that the region deserves “much better” than Santos. “George, I’m speaking to you, it’s time to step down,” Saladino said.
Earlier this week, congressmen Daniel Goldman and Ritchie Torres — two New York Democrats — called on the US House Committee on Ethics to investigate Santos over apparent irregularities in his financial disclosures.
“Mr. Santos’ financial disclosure reports in 2020 and 2022 are sparse and perplexing,” the Democrats wrote in a complaint.
“At a minimum, it is apparent that he did not file timely disclosure reports for his most recent campaign. Moreover, his own public statements have contradicted some information included in the 2022 financial disclosure and confirmed that the 2022 financial disclosure failed to disclose other required information.”
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has so far resisted calls to formally rebuke Santos or call on him to step down. Santos backed McCarthy in all 15 votes last week to elect the Republican leader as speaker, the chamber’s presiding officer.
He also voted with his Republican colleagues to pass a rules package that will govern the House for the next two years.
Top Republican Congressman Steve Scalise said on Tuesday that the GOP caucus will handle the Santos issue “internally”.
Beyond fabricating parts of his resume, old social media posts showed that Santos misrepresented all kinds of details about his personal and professional life. For example, in a 2021 tweet, he said the 9/11 attacks “claimed” his mother’s life, when in fact she had died in 2016.
Santos’s office did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
On Tuesday, four Democratic legislators with backgrounds in national security penned a letter to McCarthy voicing concern about Santos’s access to classified information.
“Mr Santos has exhibited, time and time again, that the American people cannot trust him, and the voters who once placed their trust in him were deceived,” the letter read.