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House Ethics Committee expands inquiry into Rep. George Santos

Panel leaders also plan to proceed with the investigation as the Justice Department prosecutes Santos on federal charges

New York Republican Rep. George Santos is pictured outside the Capitol in May after the last votes of the week.
New York Republican Rep. George Santos is pictured outside the Capitol in May after the last votes of the week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it broadened an investigation into scandal-laden Rep. George Santos to consider allegations of unemployment benefits fraud against the New York Republican.

Chairman Michael Guest, R-Miss., and ranking member Susan Wild, D-Pa., also announced in a statement Thursday that they would proceed with the investigation as the Justice Department prosecutes Santos on 13 federal charges in New York.

“The Committee is aware of the risks associated with dual investigations and is in communication with the Department of Justice to mitigate the potential risks while still meeting the Committee’s obligations to safeguard the integrity of the House,” they said.

The House Ethics Committee has typically paused its investigations of indicted members until the DOJ concluded a prosecution, at the agency’s request. This was the case with Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican who was convicted of lying to federal investigators in 2022; Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who pleaded guilty to using campaign funds for personal use in 2019; and Chris Collins, a New York Republican who pleaded guilty to insider trading charges in 2019.

The announcement from the bipartisan committee came the same day news broke that Santos’ father and aunt were co-signers of his $500,000 bond, information that a judge ordered to be unsealed.

The lawmaker, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, faces a range of federal charges outlined last month in an indictment, including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and false statements to the House of Representatives.

The indictment also alleged Santos received more than $24,000 in unemployment insurance benefits while he was still employed at an investment firm.

On Thursday, the committee revealed in a statement that the scope of an investigative subcommittee looking into Santos’ conduct would be expanded to include allegations that he “fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits.”

The committee, which is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, said the investigative panel is working to resolve the matter in “an expeditious timeframe.”

The subcommittee has issued more than 30 subpoenas and more than 40 voluntary requests for information, the committee said.

Santos’ out-of-custody status has allowed him to travel to Washington, D.C., and participate in House floor votes as his criminal case proceeds. He recused himself from committee assignment earlier this year.

Santos told reporters he would fight to clear his name, would not resign and still plans to run for reelection next year.

News reports published after the New York Republican was elected detailed how there was no evidence for swaths of his personal history.

The House voted in May to refer to the Ethics Committee a Democrat-led resolution to expel Santos. At the time, Rep. Nick LaLota, another New York Republican, called Santos a “sociopath scam artist” and said he expects him to be gone by resignation or expulsion before the August recess.

Chris Marquette contributed to this report.

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