The New York congressman George Santos, whose résumé has been shown to be largely fictional and whose campaign finances are the subject of scrutiny, “deserves the chance to at least make his case”, the far-right House Republican Matt Gaetz said.

“George Santos represents over 700,000 people in New York,” Gaetz, from Florida, told CNN on Saturday. “And whether people like that or not, those people deserve to have members of Congress collaborating with the person who serves them.”

Santos won the third district, which covers parts of Long Island and Queens, last November. Since then his biography has been shown to be largely made-up, his personal history widely questioned and his campaign finances scrutinised amid questions about the origins of his personal wealth.

His district party has disowned him and New York Republicans in Congress have called on him to resign. Santos has said he will not.

Kevin McCarthy, the House speaker who Santos supported through 15 rounds of voting earlier this month, and who must operate with a small majority, has not taken action, instead pointing to a House ethics office his party is attempting to gut.

On Thursday, McCarthy said: “The voters of his district have elected [Santos]. He is seated. He is part of the Republican conference.”

Gaetz was a ringleader of the attempt to stop McCarthy becoming speaker. Speaking to CNN, he aligned himself with McCarthy.

“George Santos will have to go through the congressional ethics process,” Gaetz said. “I don’t want to prejudge that process, but I think he deserves the chance to at least make his case. There are requirements members of Congress have to meet when it comes to the money that they donate to their own campaigns.

“But until then, I don’t think that George Santos should be subject to shunning because the Americans he serves deserve representation, and they have real challenges, and we ought to work together to solve their challenges and meet their needs.”

Earlier this week, Gaetz spoke to Santos on the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast. Asked about his wealth, Santos nodded to Republican claims about Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, saying: “I’ll tell you where it didn’t come from – it didn’t come from China, Ukraine or Burisma.”

Santos is under investigation in Brazil, over the use of a stolen chequebook, and in New York, over claims about his college history, professional career and family background that have been shown to be untrue. Santos has admitted “embellishing” his résumé but insisted he has done nothing wrong or unethical.

On Bannon’s podcast, Gaetz said: “Embellishing one’s résumé isn’t a crime. It’s frankly, how a lot of people get to Congress. And we want everyone to be honest.”

On Sunday, James Comer of Kentucky, the new Republican chair of the House oversight committee, was asked if Santos should quit.

He told CNN’s State of the Union: “He’s a bad guy. This is something that you know, it’s really bad … but look, George Santos was a duly elected by the people. He’s going to be … examined thoroughly. It’s his decision whether or not he should resign.”

Don Bacon of Nebraska, a Republican moderate, told ABC’s This Week: “You know, if that was me, I would resign. I wouldn’t be able to face my voters.

“But this is between him and his constituents, largely. They’ve elected him and they have to deal with him on that. I don’t think his re-election chances would be that promising, depending on how he handles this.”

Comer also said: “If he broke campaign finance laws, then he will be removed.”

This week, Democrats in Congress requested an investigation of Santos’s campaign finances while a nonpartisan watchdog, the Campaign Legal Center, filed its own request for a campaign finance investigation by the Federal Election Commission.

The CLC complaint said: “Particularly in light of Santos’s mountain of lies about his life and qualifications for office, the [FEC] should thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money.”

Writing for the Guardian, the columnist Moira Donegan pointed to Santos’s rise in a Republican party led by Donald Trump.

“It would be a mistake to think that George Santos’s pathologies are his alone,” she wrote. “His lies are the product of a political system that incentivises dishonesty, punishes sincerity and is rife with opportunities for petty crooks.

“In that sense, Santos is the politician that we deserve.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *