Amid escalating calls for his resignation and piling allegations of lies and misconduct, Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) told The Epoch Times that he has no intention of doing so and instead is focused on serving his constituents.
Earlier this week, despite a mounting pressure campaign from critics on both sides of the aisle, Santos, 34, was assigned to two committees, the House Committee on Small Business, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The congressman, who is facing investigations reportedly by federal authorities over potential campaign finance violations, and by local prosecutors over misrepresentations during the campaign, said that rather than resigning, he would refer the matter back to voters in two years when he would sit for reelection.
“I was hired by the voters and I will be fired by the voters, not by the Democrat Party or the Republican Party or the media,” Santos said.
“I serve the 142,000 voters who voted for me and the other 125,000 or so voters who didn’t vote for me. So my goal within the next two years is to service them to the best extent of my capacity,” he added.
Santos is accused of lying about a growing list of topics, including his education, work history, his Jewish heritage, that he’s the descendent of Holocaust survivors, and that his mother survived the 9/11 attack.
Santos has admitted to lying about attending college, while also conceding to embellishing his resume in claiming that he worked for Wall Street firms when he actually worked with other companies that did business with them.
“I’m human, and I made a bad decision. Lying is never excusable,” he told The Epoch Times.
“On the higher education stuff, I did not graduate from an institution of higher education,” he added. “I am sorry for misleading folks into believing that.”
A group of GOP officials and lawmakers, many from New York, have called for Santos’s resignation.
The congressman said some who publicly called for his resignation gave him the “heads up that they were doing it for political reasons.”
“I won’t name names, but they then checked up on me afterwards and said, ‘Look, I understand this is politics,’” he said.
“I have had an enormous amount of support from people who say, “Hey, I’ve been through this locally. I know it’s a little different when it’s national. But you’ll get through this.”
Santos said he was thankful to have the opportunity to work on the Small Business, and Space, Science and Technology committees.
Previously, Santos told The Epoch Times that he was hoping for a committee assignment to financial services, but withdrew from consideration for that panel in the wake of the controversy.
“Obviously, I wanted financial services, but not with all the controversy. That’s a very big committee with big assignments and it was smart for me to withdraw consideration from there,” so as not to distract from the work of the committee, the congressman said.
On Science, Space, and Technology, Santos said the United States is particularly vulnerable to technology from China that is deployed here.
“China is definitely going to be a big talking point there. We need to make sure that we can understand the vulnerabilities we have with China, Russia, and all the cybersecurity threats that they pose to the United States,” he said.
In small business, Santos said he would like to see the agency “supporting businesses to give them the foundations to build strong foundations. So that in times of crisis, they can withstand a crisis.”
Specifically, he’d like to see more by the SBA to create accessibility for growth capital loans offered by the agency.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the SBA for comment.
In addition to alleged false claims during the campaign trail, reports have emerged of potential campaign finance violations. Santos is accused of improper fundraising and spending activities, both of which have been the subject of Federal Electoral Commission complaints.
When asked about the alleged violations, Santos expressed puzzlement, saying he hired a compliance firm to run his campaign spending for both election cycles in 2022 and 2020, during his unsuccessful Congress bid.
“To the best of my knowledge, they’ve always done a great job. We’ve never received any violations. And it wasn’t until the media hysteria started that now they’re claiming that I’ve misappropriated campaign funds,” he said.
“So I’m just trying to understand where’s this all coming from because the same company I hired represents many high-profile Republicans and I seem to be the only one that’s getting heat.”
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that Santos will be removed from Congress if he broke campaign finance rules.
“He’s a bad guy,” Comer told CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “It’s not up to me or any other member of Congress to determine whether he can be kicked out for lying. Now, if he broke campaign finance laws, then he will be removed from Congress.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said he will leave the Ethics Committee and voters to decide on the issue of Santos’s fate.
In response to revelations that prosecutors in Brazil have revived a 2008 fraud case into Santos regarding a stolen checkbook, the congressman said that he has not been in contact with authorities there.
“I’ve retained a lawyer there to go look at this and see what’s going on,” he said. “They have not been able to deliver a confession letter, they have not been able to deliver a mug shot, fingerprints, or anything that proves these allegations against me.”
“Part of the proof I am not a wanted criminal there is between the years of 2008 and 2015, I was issued two brand new Brazilian passports by the Federal Police there, which is the equivalent of Homeland Security/FBI over here in the United States,” he added.
“I had about eight entries into the country within that timeframe. Never once was I stopped, detained or asked questions about any crimes.”
The Republican congressman alleged that the media and the Democrats are applying a double standard to him that didn’t apply in the cases of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who made false claims about his Vietnam War record, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who lied about her Native American heritage.
“I also believe that the media is trying to command the narrative and trying to create some kind of opportunity for a special election, knowing that in a special election, this seat would go to Democrats. This is all it’s about. This has nothing to do with me,” Santos added.