A coalition of New York Republicans on Tuesday introduced legislation that would ban Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from profiting off his fabrications if he is convicted of certain crimes, revving up their attack against the embattled congressman.
The legislation does not mention Santos by name, but lawmakers who introduced the two related measures made clear they are directed toward the New York Republican, who has been the target of scrutiny for fabricating parts of his resume and submitting questionable financial disclosure reports.
“It’s very simple,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.), the lead sponsor of the legislation, said at a press conference Tuesday. “If you are defrauding the American people, if you are making a mockery out of the people’s House, or violating campaign finance law, you should not be able to turn it into a payday.”
“Should fraudsters like George Santos be indicted or convicted of crimes listed in my legislation, our legislation, they won’t be able to make money from a book deal, a TV movie, Dancing with the Stars or the next Netflix special,” he added.
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is seen outside of his office in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Greg Nash)
The group of Republicans introduced a bill and a resolution. The bill — titled the No Fortune For Fraud Act — would create a law that applied to House members who are convicted of offenses involving financial or campaign finance fraud, including conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims and false, fictitious or fraudulent claims, in addition to violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.
The resolution, known as the No Fame for Fraud Resolution, would amend House rules to make the policy apply to lawmakers indicted for the same offenses.
D’Esposito circulated the legislation last month. On Tuesday, he described the list of offenses as any unlawful acts that would result in members losing their pensions.
“This legislation is about ensuring that elected officials who break the public’s trust are held accountable for their wrongdoings,” D’Esposito said. “No one should be able to profit off lying to the American people and swindling their way into the People’s House.”
Asked on Tuesday if he is confident that Santos will be convicted of an offense, D’Esposito said “yes.”
“Of everything that we read, obviously none of us are part of the investigation, but everything that we’ve read, the holes and stories, the misinformation, you know, I think all roads are leading to, you know, to the issues at hand, and we’re going to let due process play out,” he added.
A number of groups have received formal complaints about or are said to be investigating Santos amid questions about his background and finances. Last week, the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the congressman.
D’Esposito said the group has had conversations with leadership, adding that he is “confident” the measures will make it to the floor.
New York GOP Reps. Nicholas LaLota, Brandon Williams, Mike Lawler, Nick Langworthy and Marc Molinaro — all first-term representatives — joined D’Esposito as co-sponsors of the legislation. All six lawmakers have called on Santos to resign. D’Esposito, LaLota and Molinaro have also expressed support for Santos to be expelled.
“George Santos is a scam artist, and we New York Republicans are here to stop him,” LaLota said during Tuesday’s press conference.
“Any other person should have been embarrassed for having been exposed for those lies. They would’ve shown remorse, they would’ve paid in shame. But not George Santos,” he later added. “He tweeted more, he went on national TV, he even positioned himself in a center-aisle seat during the State of the Union. Why? Because George Santos is dead broke, and he’s trying to use his new infamy to enrich himself, to further what we set out to do three years ago — to use his persona as a public figure to enrich himself.”
The congressman continued, saying, “We New York Republicans can smell a scam from a mile away, and George Santos’s scam absolutely stinks.”
Asked on Tuesday if the New York Republicans were satisfied with GOP leadership’s reaction to Santos — specifically pointing out House GOP Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) — D’Esposito said he was pleased with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) without commenting on Stefanik.
Stefanik, the highest-ranking congressional Republican from New York, has pointed to the “process” Santos will go through.