The House Ethics Committee released its long-awaited report on its investigation into New York Republican Rep. George Santos on Thursday.
The panel found that there is "substantial evidence" of wrongdoing from the freshman congressman, which will almost certainly result in another attempt to expel him from the House of Representatives.
In a statement, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Ethics Committee said that the panel "unanimously concluded that there was substantial evidence" that Santos "knowingly" committed a litany of federal crimes and referred its findings to the Justice Department.
"Representative Santos’ conduct warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and has brought severe discredit upon the House," the committee's Republican Chairman Michael Guest, R-Miss., and Ranking Member Susan Wild, D-Pa., said in a joint statement.
The panel charged that Santos "blatantly stole from his campaign," "sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit" and "reported fictitious loans to his political committees to induce donors and party committees to make further contributions to his campaign – and then diverted campaign money to himself as purported ‘repayments’ of those fictitious loans."
The committee stopped short of recommending punishment, including expulsion, for Santos. Rep. Guest told reporters on Wednesday that such a move would have required a "much longer process" to complete.
"The investigative subcommittee decided that they were going to compile the report, they would release the report to the members, to the public, and based upon that then our members can take whatever action that they felt necessary," Guest said Wednesday.
The report concludes that Santos "knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes; engaged in fraudulent conduct in connection with RedStone Strategies LLC; and engaged in knowing and willful violations of the Ethics in Government Act" as it relates to House financial disclosures.
Among the panel's findings were expenditures from Santos' campaign on lavish trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey, Botox and spa treatments, goods from Hermes and Sephora and payments to OnlyFans.
In a statement, Santos called the Ethics panel's report "biased" and a "smear" against him and his legal team.
"It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk," Santos wrote in a lengthy post on X, formerly Twitter. "Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves."
The embattled New York congressman is facing 23 felony charges, including wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds. Prosecutors say he stole money from campaign donors and identities from family members, misled federal election officials and fabricated a $500,000 loan, among other alleged schemes.
In addition to his legal woes, Santos has been accused by journalists, acquaintances, business partners, fellow Republicans and former friends of lying for years about his career on Wall Street, academic credentials, athletic achievements, Hollywood roles, racial heritage, being the descendant of Holocaust survivors, losing his mother to the 9/11 terrorist attack and losing employees in the 2016 Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub that left 49 people dead.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, denied any wrongdoing and refused all calls to resign. He had previously pledged to run for reelection in 2024, though on Thursday he decided against doing so again.
"I will remain steadfast in fighting for my rights and for defending my name in the face of adversity," Santos said Thursday. "I am humbled yet again and reminded that I am human and I have flaws, but I will not stand by as I am stoned by those who have flaws themselves. I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed.
"I will however NOT be seeking re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time," he added.
The House rejected a measure to expel Santos brought by a group of his fellow freshman New York congressmen earlier this month, who have been pushing for his ouster from Congress in the wake of his criminal charges and allegations of falsehoods coming to light.
"George Santos should end this farce and resign immediately," New York Rep. Mike Lawler, one of those freshman Republicans, wrote on social media on Thursday after the report was released. "If he refuses, he must be removed from Congress. His conduct is not only unbecoming and embarrassing, it is criminal. He is unfit to serve and if he had any dignity, he would resign today."
"The newly released House Ethics Committee report on George Santos is in alignment with my long held belief that this fraudster has no place serving in the People's House, and I once again call on my colleagues to join me in advocating for George Santos' expulsion from Congress," New York Rep. Anthony D'Esposito said in a statement.
"As expected, this report confirms what we knew: George Santos is a fraud, committed fraud & should not serve in the House of Representatives," said N.Y. GOP Rep. Marc Molinaro. "This is why I called for his resignation, voted for his expulsion & believe he needs to be removed from Congress."
"The bipartisan Ethics Committee confirmed what most New Yorkers knew months ago: George Santos is a total fraud who stole an election to get to Congress," said fellow Long Island Rep. Nick LaLota. "The House must use our Constitutional expulsion powers. This will let the Third District participate in a valid election."
Guest told POLITICO in an interview that he found the report "very eye-opening" and encouraged members of Congress to read it ahead of another expulsion vote on Santos.
"I hope members will take a chance to read the report, familiarize themselves with all the facts about this case so that then they can make an informed decision on the House floor," he told the outlet.
Guest is one of a handful of lawmakers reportedly expected to file a measure to expel Santos in the coming days, and several members who voted against previous measures to expel the New York Republican told reporters they would vote favorably this time around.
California Rep. Robert Garcia, who led the first effort to try and expel Santos earlier this year, said in a statement that he "will once again be submitting a privileged resolution to expel this liar and fraud when we return to session" in late November.
Rep. Wild, who initially voted "present" on Santos' expulsion due to the ongoing Ethics probe, said that she will support measures to boot the New York Republican from Congress.
"I intend to vote yes on any privileged expulsion resolution that is brought forward, as the work of the Committee is now complete, and I am no longer obligated to maintain neutrality as a Member of the Ethics Committee," she said in a statement.
Spectrum News' Joseph Konig contributed to this report.