Lawmakers speak out as George Santos admits to lying about biography

Most Republicans have not commented but some have also criticized Santos.

December 28, 2022, 5:16 PM

New York Rep.-elect George Santos is facing mounting criticism from his future Democratic colleagues for fabricating parts of his biography -- criticism that is coming from some of Santos' fellow Republicans as well, though many in his party have not commented on the controversy, and some have defended him.

"GOP Congressman-elect George Santos, who has now admitted his whopping lies, should resign," Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted on Monday, pushing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to call a vote to expel Santos if he does not step down.

Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro also tweeted that Santos should resign or Congress should expel him, which would require a two-thirds vote, and that his actions should be investigated by authorities.

And Ritchie Torres, D-.N.Y., called for Santos to resign and to be investigated, specifically raising questions about his financial disclosures.

Financial forms that Santos filed in the House listed him as having a $750,000 income through the Devolder Organization -- which his website previously called his "family firm," where he oversaw $80 million in client assets as the managing principal.

However, following a search, ABC News could not find a website or LinkedIn page for the organization. Additionally, Santos did not identify any clients of the firm on his financial disclosure forms. A 2020 disclosure form stated that Santos was paid a $55,000 salary the previous year.

"Where did all that money come from?" Torres tweeted on Monday. Speaking with the website Semafor, Santos gave some details about how he said he earned fees from his work in finance and business but did not name any clients.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the incoming House minority leader, spoke sharply of Santos last week.

"He appears to be a complete and utter fraud. His whole life story made up, and he's going to have to answer that question: Did you perpetrate a fraud on the voters?" Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters.

PHOTO: Republican candidate for New York's 3rd Congressional District George Santos, talks to a voter while campaigning, Nov. 5, 2022, in Glen Cove, New York.
Republican candidate for New York's 3rd Congressional District George Santos, talks to a voter while campaigning, Nov. 5, 2022, in Glen Cove, New York.
Mary Altaffer/AP, File

"It's an open question to me as to whether this is the type of individual that the incoming majority should welcome to Congress. That's a question from Kevin McCarthy at this point in time," Jeffries said.

ABC News has reached out to Republican House leaders McCarthy, Elise Stefanik and Steve Scalise for comment multiple times and they have not responded.

New York Attorney General Letitia James' office said last week that she was looking into a number of issues raised about Santos.

In a series of interviews this week, Santos -- who initially pushed back on scrutiny of his biography -- admitted to lying about or exaggerating parts of his background, including where he went to school and worked and past claims about his Jewish ancestry.

Santos apologized and sought to play down the discrepancies as "embellishing."

"I am not a criminal. This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective," he told The New York Post on Monday. "I will be good."

While Republican leadership has largely remained silent on Santos, fellow New York Rep.-elect Nick LaLota released a statement asking the ethics committee to investigate.

"House Republicans like me are eager to be sworn in and focus on our commitment to America and our respective districts. Yet over the last few weeks, I have heard from countless Long Islanders how deeply troubled they are by the headlines surrounding George Santos," LaLota said.

"As a Navy man who campaigned on restoring accountability and integrity to our government, I believe a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement, is required," he said.

Incoming Rep.-elect Mike Lawler also released a statement Thursday stating Santos should "cooperate fully" with any investigations into his conduct if he's to "regain the trust of his constituents and colleagues."

"George Santos owes the people of his district the complete and total truth about his personal and professional background, and a sincere apology for his behavior," Lawler said. "Attempts to blame others or minimize his actions are only making things worse and a complete distraction from the task at hand."

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, told the Washington Examiner he doesn't support Santos being in the GOP conference.

PHOTO: U.S. Representative-elect George Santos speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nov. 19, 2022.
U.S. Representative-elect George Santos speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nov. 19, 2022.
Wade Vandervort/AFP via Getty Images

Another incoming Republican New York representative, Anthony D'Esposito, also released a statement condemning Santos' actions but did not echo a call for an ethics investigation.

Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted in defense of Santos on Tuesday, arguing that the "left" was being disingenuous.

"The left doesn't care about lying. ... I'm glad George is being honest with his district now and look forward to seeing how George legislates & votes," she tweeted.

Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo Jr., in Santos' district, said in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday that Santos "has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of voters and everyone who he represents in Congress."

"I am deeply disappointed in Mr. Santos, and I expected more than just a blanket apology," Cairo said.

He said that Santos' contrition could be earned through a conservative legislative record.

"He must do the public's will in Washington. Residents want him to deliver tax relief and pass laws that will make our neighborhoods and our nation safer," Cairo said. "What's more, George Santos will have to continually prove that he has learned his lesson."

ABC News' Hannah Demissie contributed to this report.

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