House Speaker Kevin McCarthy named a slate of Republican members to the chamber’s Ethics Committee on Tuesday, including New York Rep. Andrew Garbarino, whose Long Island district abuts that of embattled Rep. George Santos.
Republican Santos, a freshman who said Tuesday he would step down from his own committee assignments, faces numerous investigations and will be subject to a probe from the ethics panel, McCarthy has said.
In addition to Garbarino, McCarthy named Reps. David Joyce of Ohio, John Rutherford of Florida and Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota to the committee, which is tasked with investigating and adjudicating potential violations of House rules. McCarthy appointed Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest as chairman of the panel last week.
“House Republicans are working to restore integrity, accountability, and transparency to the halls of Congress,” McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday announcing his party’s picks for the panel. “The Members on this committee will work to build trust among the American people and will ensure Members of Congress are held to a standard worthy of their title. Under new leadership, the House of Representatives will return to truly serving as the People’s House.”
Garbarino has stayed largely mum about the Santos situation in recent weeks, citing his expected work on the Ethics panel.
Even so, congressional ethics advocates said Garbarino may not appear impartial. His leadership PAC, Baker PAC, contributed to Santos’ campaign, federal campaign records show, before news reports began casting doubt on Santos’ stated biography and on irregularities in the freshman’s campaign fundraising.
“The appointment of Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) to the House Ethics Committee is especially revealing,” said Aaron Scherb, a senior director of legislative affairs at Common Cause, in an email to CQ Roll Call. “When the committee is investigating Rep. George Santos’ numerous lies, fabrications, and significant ethical lapses, a reasonable observer could call into question the ability of Rep. Garbarino to be an objective investigator.”
Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who is also from New York, appointed a slate of Democrats to the Ethics panel on Jan. 10. Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild will serve as the party’s ranking member, with Reps. Veronica Escobar of Texas, Mark DeSaulnier of California, Deborah K. Ross of North Carolina and Glenn F. Ivey of Maryland rounding out the committee’s Democrats.
“These Members have each shown a steadfast commitment to good governance and they exemplify our Democratic values of integrity, transparency and accountability,” Jeffries said in a statement. “Under the leadership of Ranking Member Susan Wild, these Members will protect the sanctity of the People’s House and ensure that our elected officials uphold the highest ethical standards.”