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GOP turn on "disgraced" Long Island Rep. George Santos, call for him to resign

J.D. Allen
Nassau County Republican Party chairman Joseph Cairo, Jr. calls for Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to resign immediately at local party headquarters on Long Island.

Joseph Cairo, Jr., the powerful longtime Nassau County Republican Party chairman, said "disgraced" Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has got to go.

Cairo was flanked at the party’s headquarters Wednesday by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman as well as town and village officials, and joined by freshman Rep. Anthony D'Esposito (R-NY) in Washington D.C. via video conference, calling for Santos to resign immediately.

"George Santos has disgraced the House of Representatives and the Republican Party with a veritable profusion of lies, dishonesty, misstatements and hurtful false claims," Cairo said. "It's time for George Santos to resign."

New York State Republican Party chairman, Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY) and Suffolk County GOP czar Jesse Garcia echoed the call to resign in statements. Garcia said, "Santos is not welcome in the Republican Party."

“It’s clear that he cannot be an effective representative and it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers to have new leadership," Langworthy said. "I will continue working with our local elected officials to ensure that trust and dignity are restored to the third congressional district.”

While Santos' local supporters turned their backs on him, he maintained no wrongdoing Wednesday morning and tweeted in response, "I will NOT resign."

Santos took office earlier this month after a bombshell New York Times report in late December alleged he fabricated nearly his entire resume to appeal to voters. While Santos admitted to "resume embellishments," he said he did nothing wrong and plans to serve his term.

Local, state and federal prosecutors are investigating whether lies about his academic, employment and financial history are grounds for criminal charges.

Democrats and nonpartisan watchdog groups have also filed complaints to the Federal Elections Committee, the GOP-led House Ethics Committee and the independent Office of Congressional Ethics over campaign finance irregularities that they claim "failed to uphold the integrity" of the House, according to one of the complaints.

"They're free to do whatever they want to do," Santos told reporters Tuesday. "I've done nothing unethical."

J.D. Allen
Nassau County Republican Party chairman Joseph Cairo, Jr. with County Executive Bruce Blakeman at Wednesday's press conference.

In Nassau, the GOP and local officials said they would cut off all support and communication with Santos until he resigns. They said Santos is “prohibited” from attending county events. All calls for federal support from constituents their offices receive will be deferred to D'Esposito instead.

Cairo has also previously said the Nassau GOP would not support Santos in 2024 — if he serves his term.

"He cannot serve anymore. He does not deserve that right. He is a stain on the House of Representatives. He's a stain on the third congressional district," said Blakeman, a Republican county executive.

Many of the Republicans, who identified as Jewish, especially took offense to Santos' lies about being a descendant of Holocaust survivors. Santos has claimed he meant to say he was "Jew-ish."

The Federal Ethics Committee has already asked Santos and his campaign treasurer to explain three donations that possibly exceed limits; he could be required to refund the excess.

A complaint from the Campaign Legal Center raises questions about $700,000 in loans he paid his campaign, and thousands of campaign dollars used on personal expenses. They also question how Santos' reported income exponentially increased between his 2020 and 2022 campaigns. The group claims — since Santos was not the Wall Street investor that he said he was — he funneled money from the party, political action committees and other donors.

Cairo, the Nassau County GOP czar, claims money received from Santos' campaign has been returned.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said Tuesday that GOP leadership plans to address Santos "internally."

“I will not associate with him in Congress, and I will encourage others in the House of Representatives to join me in rejecting him,” said D’Esposito, who now represents New York’s fourth congressional district in southern Nassau and Queens.

Both Republicans and Democrats are warning that Santos could be a national security risk if he is placed on congressional committees that deal with sensitive information.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Wednesday morning Santos should not be seated on top committees.

Santos told reporters that he would represent his constituents in any assignment he's given. He said that he plans to again address the media about his falsehoods "soon."

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.