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28 Oct, 2023 15:22

US congressman pleads not guilty to ten felonies amid expulsion threat

George Santos, a New York Republican who faked his resume to get elected, faces charges of identity theft and fraud
US congressman pleads not guilty to ten felonies amid expulsion threat

Republican congressman George Santos pleaded not guilty to charges including identity theft, embezzlement and wire fraud on Friday at the US District Court in Central Islip, New York. The New York representative is facing potential expulsion from the House of Representatives as soon as next week.  

Santos, who became the first openly gay Republican elected to the House in 2022, was charged earlier this month with stealing campaign donors’ identities and running up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges on their credit cards.  

He was also accused of embezzling funds from his company and working with his former campaign manager – who has already pleaded guilty to her part in the alleged crime – to falsify campaign donation records in order to qualify for financial support from the Republican Party.  

Santos had already been indicted in May on 13 federal charges, including seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to the House. Among other claims, he was accused of setting up a phony company to solicit “campaign contributions” that he diverted to personal expenses, including designer clothing.  

Following his second indictment earlier this month, the embattled representative insisted that he still planned to run for reelection in 2024 despite his legal troubles, vowing to fight the charges “until the bitter end.” 

Fellow New York Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito introduced a resolution on Thursday to expel Santos from Congress. The freshman congressman is “not fit to serve his constituents as a United States representative,” D’Esposito stated, mentioning Santos’ bogus claims about his and his family’s connections to “major events, including the Holocaust, 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the Pulse nightclub shooting,” as well as the mounting criminal charges against him.  

The measure was co-sponsored by four other congressmen and is expected to be voted on as early as next week. In response, Santos issued several “points of clarification” in a post to X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday, stressing that he was not resigning and was entitled to due process.  

Newly minted House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson appeared to agree during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday, in which Johnson, citing the Republicans’ “razor-thin majority” in Congress, affirmed that “George Santos is due due process.”  

 Santos’ career in Congress has been dogged by revelations that he largely fictionalized his personal and political history – from his professional resume to his religious heritage and his criminal record – only to sail into a contested House seat without so much as a cursory fact-check from the Democratic opposition. He has admitted to “embellishing” his biography but has denied all wrongdoing.