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House Democrats file, hand-deliver ethics complaint to George Santos

A pair of House Democrats on Tuesday filed and hand-delivered to Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) a complaint urging the Ethics Committee to open an investigation into allegations the freshman congressman failed to file timely, accurate and complete financial disclosure reports.

Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.) filed the ethics complaint against Santos on Tuesday and delivered a copy of the six-page document to the New York Republican’s congressional office. Goldman knocked on Santos’s door and entered the office, leaving the complaint on a desk inside.

“In order to safeguard the integrity of federal ethics laws and the House of Representatives itself, we respectfully request that you immediately undertake a full investigation into this matter of George Santos’s failure to timely and accurately file financial disclosure reports and promptly take all other necessary steps to seek appropriate penalties and corrective action,” the complaint reads.

The lawmakers allege that Santos — who was sworn into Congress early Saturday morning — violated the Ethics in Government Act for not filing accurate and complete financial disclosure reports on time.

The pair zeroed in on a number of allegations regarding the congressman’s financial records, including his failure to file financial disclosure forms before the GOP primary, whether he reported interest income properly and if he “engaged in fraudulent activity” through his company, the Devolder Organization.

The complaint brings attention to Santos’s disclosure that he earned more than $1 million in dividends from Devolder per year, noting that financial data company Dun & Bradstreet estimates the company had a revenue of $43,688 as of July 20, 2022.

The lawmakers also pointed out a discrepancy regarding Santos’s ownership of property in Rio de Janeiro. The financial form discloses an apartment in Brazil, but he later admitted to not owning any property.

Torres, in remarks shortly after delivering the complaint, said the pair is asking that the Ethics Committee investigate Santos. If the panel finds that the allegations have merit, Torres said Santos should face disciplinary action.

Asked about the ethics complaint on Tuesday, Santos told reporters “they’re free to do whatever they want to do.” Pressed on whether he is concerned, the congressman responded, “I’m not. I have done nothing unethical.”

“I have not,” he added, when asked if he thinks he has done anything wrong.

The Ethics Committee — which is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans — first must decide whether to launch an investigation. It remains unclear if it will do so.

Goldman told reporters on Tuesday that the pair has heard from some Republicans who support an ethics investigation. He specifically cited Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), who has called for a full House Ethics investigation into Santos.

The complaint to the Ethics Committee is the latest development in the controversy surrounding Santos, who admitted to embellishing parts of his resume after news reports uncovered widespread discrepancies in his biography.

On Monday, the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission outlining what is says are violations of campaign finance laws. On top of that, the New York Republican is already the subject of probes led by the Eastern District of New York and the Nassau County district attorney.

Additionally, a spokesperson for the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office told The New York Times that it will make a formal request with the Justice Department to inform him that a 2008 criminal fraud case he was involved with is being reopened.

And, a group of four other Democratic House members with backgrounds in national security penned a letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday expressing concern regarding “Santos’s access to classified information and potential appointment to any Congressional Committees that may facilitate the use of this information,” citing his “fabricated” biography and other allegations.

Goldman and Torres cited the ongoing controversy — particularly his misleading biography — in the ethics complaint.

“Given the revelations about his biography, as well as the public information pertaining to his financial disclosures, Mr. Santos has hailed to uphold the integrity expected of members of the House of Representatives,” the complaint reads. “We therefore respectfully request that you investigate this matter to determine the extent of these violations and take appropriate action as soon as possible.”

Democratic leaders also weighed in on the Santos scandals Tuesday morning, accusing McCarthy of seating the controversial freshman for the sole purpose of padding McCarthy’s vote tally in last week’s marathon balloting that finally gave him the Speaker’s gavel on the 15th vote.

“He owns George Santos,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), chair of the Democratic Caucus, said of McCarthy. “That’s the only reason why he was seated, is to give George Santos that ability to vote for Kevin McCarthy.”

Aguilar said there “should be repercussions” for Santos, and called on state and federal law enforcement agencies — including the Federal Election Commission — to investigate.

“This is an incredibly serious issue from someone who clearly is divorced from reality and sanity,” he said. “But this is at the feet of Kevin McCarthy, not just George Santos alone.”

Mike Lillis contributed.