WASHINGTON — After receiving scrutiny for lying about his past, Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is now facing mounting pressure from his fellow freshman House Republicans.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday formally introduced legislation which would prohibit the embattled congressman from profiting off his falsehoods if it is found that he committed an offense concerning financial or campaign finance fraud. Though Santos has not been convicted of anything, D’Esposito, joined by Reps. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) and Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) cited Santos as the inspiration for the bill. During the news conference, the New York congressmen spoke of their determination to hold Santos accountable and defend his constituents.
“This legislation is about ensuring that elected officials who break the public’s trust are held accountable for their wrongdoings. No one should be able to profit off lying to the American people and swindling their way into the people’s house,” D’Esposito said.
Along with introducing the bill, known as the “No Fortune For Fraud” Act, D’Esposito also introduced a resolution, called “No Fame For Fraud.” The resolution would change House rules “to make the policy apply to lawmakers indicted for the same offenses.”
Though neither the bill nor the resolution mention Santos by name, D’Esposito, LaLota and Williams did not shy away from talking about him.
“[Santos is] trying to use his new infamy to enrich himself to further what he set out to do three years ago, to use his persona as a public figure to enrich himself. And we New York Republicans can smell a scam from a mile away,” LaLota said.
Santos responded to the bill in a comment to Medill News Service, saying, “I haven’t been convicted of anything, so this bill doesn’t apply to me.”
A long-time critic of Santos, D’Esposito was the first House Republican to call for his resignation. Last week, he tweeted an article from The Hill speculating about his possible legislation, to which Santos alleged in a now-deleted tweet that D’Esposito “lost his NYPD issued GUN while he was DJing at a party” and “assaulted a 72 year old senior WOMEN.” Santos’ response prompted LaLota and Williams to defend D’Esposito.
If passed, the bill would be enforced by the clerk and House leadership. It does not prevent people who have lied from being elected, but rather ensures that “someone who has made a mockery of this institution doesn’t then generate a profit,” D’Esposito said.
Currently, the bill is not backed by any Democratic members, but D’Esposito welcomed their support.
“This isn’t about Republican or Democrat. It’s about doing what’s right,” he said.
Despite the lack of support from the other side, D’Esposito said he spoke with GOP leadership about it and is confident the bill will make it to the House floor for a vote.
Adding that one goal of this bill was to protect New York constituents, D’Esposito acknowledged that he, along with LaLota and Williams, come from districts that flipped in 2022 after long being in Democratic control.
“People wanted change, and the change they wanted to see was through people like us. And we’re not going to let George Santos get in the way of us making change, the change that people wanted for us to deliver in the People’s House,” D’Esposito said.