NEW YORK (AP) — Local Republican leaders in New York on Wednesday called for the immediate resignation of their new GOP congressman George Santos, who is facing multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family heritage.
"His lies were not mere fibs. He disgraced the House of Representatives," Joseph Cairo Jr., chair of the Nassau County Republican Committee, said at a news conference. "He's not welcome here at Republican headquarters."
Santos, swarmed by reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, flatly rejected the call for him to resign, saying, "I will not."
Cairo and other Republicans said Santos deceived voters and the Nassau County GOP and they were particularly incensed by his lies about having Jewish ancestry.
Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, another Republican newly elected to represent Long Island, spoke at the news conference via video from Washington and joined Cairo's call for his colleague's resignation.
The local party has no mechanism to remove Santos from office. He was sworn in to the U.S. House last week.
The move comes a day after two Democrats from New York asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Santos. Reps. Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman, in a letter to the committee, said Santos also failed to file "timely, accurate and complete" financial disclosure reports and the reports he did file are "sparse and perplexing."
Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center lodged a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and urged regulators to investigate Santos. The "mountain of lies" Santos propagated during the campaign about his life story and qualifications, the center said, should prompt the commission to "thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money."
Initially, the victory by Santos, an openly gay Republican who flipped a Long Island House seat held by Democrats for a decade, was seen as one of his party's bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming midterm election. But as reports began to emerge that Santos had lied about having Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms and a college degree, he turned into a distraction and an embarrassment to the party as it took control of the House.
During his campaign, he referred to himself as "a proud American Jew." But he later backtracked on that claim, saying his mother's family had "a Jewish background," and he told the New York Post in an interview, "I said I was 'Jew-ish.'"
Santos first ran for Congress in 2020, losing to Tom Suozzi, a Democrat. He ran again in 2022, facing Democrat Robert Zimmerman in a district that includes some Long Island suburbs and a small slice of Queens.