U.S. Rep. George Santos announced on Thursday he would not seek re-election, following the release of the House Ethics Committee’s investigation into the embattled congressman.
Santos made the announcement in a post on the social media platform X — formerly known as Twitter — despite having previously stated that he would run for re-election, even if he were expelled from the House.
“I will remain steadfast in fighting for my rights and for defending my name in the face of adversity,” Santos wrote. “I am humbled yet again and reminded that I am human and I have flaws, but I will not stand by as I am stoned by those who have flaws themselves. I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed. I will however not be seeking re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.”
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi — Santos’ predecessor in the district — a candidate for the seat, released a statement Thursday praising the comittee’s report, and reiterating the importance of the upcoming election.
“Finally,” his statement read. “This is an important first step toward restoring some sanity to the 3rd Congressional District and electing someone who will fight for and get things done for the people of Long Island and Northeast Queens.”
Anna Kaplan, a Democrat running for Santos’ seat, said she believed the announcement was not enough, and that constituents were tired of Santos’ legal drama and lack of accountability.
“There’s still a long way to go,” Kaplan said. “He’s not resigning; they’re not expelling him. I think that 3rd Congressional District residents want transparency. They want their electeds to uphold the law and make sure that they abide by the ethics rules.”
Kellen Curry, one of the Republican candidates running to replace Santos, released a statement commending his decision, but emphasizing that there was still a lot of work to do to restore trust in the district.
“George Santos is finally taking a step in the right direction, but our country is at a crossroads,” Curry wrote on Thursday. “Today marks the beginning of a renewed focus on the issues that matter, instead of the distraction of the last 11 months. NY-3 constituents are calling for experienced, next generation leaders to serve in Congress who will fight to keep us safe, control spending, and bring people together around a shared vision of getting America back on track.”
Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the state Democratic Committee, expressed no surprise at Santos’ announcement. Jacobs said that if Santos had chosen to run again, he would have had virtually no support.
Santos, who recently pleaded not guilty to a 23-count federal indictment alleging identity theft, wire fraud and other charges, has been accused of largely fabricating his background.
“It’s no great shock,” Jacobs said. “Of course he can’t run for re-election.”
Following a months-long investigation, the Ethics Committee said on Wednesday that it would not recommend any punishment for Santos in its report. Instead, the committee said, it would simply present the details of the investigation and let Santos’ House colleagues decide whether he should be expelled from Congress.
Michael Guest, a Mississippi Republican and member of the committee, explained that the decision not to make a specific recommendation was made to expedite the process, because suggesting actions like expulsion would have significantly prolonged the committee’s work.
The report’s imminent release prompted renewed determination by members of the New York Republican congressional delegation, including Reps. Nick LaLota and Marc Molinaro, to push for Santos’ removal when the House reconvenes after Thanksgiving.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, another Long Island Republican who has been an outspoken advocate of Santos’ expulsion, released a statement that once again called for the House to take that action.
“The newly released House Ethics Committee report on George Santos is in alignment with my long-held belief that this fraudster has no place serving in the People’s House,” Esposito’s statement read, “and I once again call on my colleagues to join me in advocating for George Santos’ expulsion from Congress.”
For their part, House leaders hope the committee’s report might lead to a quick plea deal between Santos and criminal prosecutors over his campaign finance case, pending in U.S. District Court in Central Islip — a deal that would most likely include Santos’ resignation. Those leaders want to avoid expulsion, a source close to the matter told the Herald, which could impact any special race to replace Santos.
Robert Zimmerman, the Democrat who opposed Santos in last year’s election, criticized the Ethics Committee’s decision. He argued that the committee’s failure to expel Santos from Congress was a disservice not only to the citizens of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, but to American democracy.
“It’s just a glaring betrayal of their responsibility to the American people and to the House of Representatives,” Zimmerman said. “It’s absolutely critical that the public keep the pressure on the Republican majority, and demand that they put the needs of the people of our 3rd Congressional District first, versus their own desperate efforts to hold on to their slim majority and hold on to political power.”