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New York Republicans differ over whether Rep. George Santos should resign

Terry Sheridan
A rally outside a courthouse in Mineola, New York in December calls for Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) to resign after he admitted to lying about his academic, employment and financial history to get elected.

Long Island Rep. George Santos (R-NY) continues to face scrutiny for fabricating his background including his education, employment and financial history.

Several Republicans in the state have called for him to resign, but others say it's not their place to make that call. Santos has said he will not step down.

Central New York Republican Rep. Brandon Williams said he agrees with the request for Santos to resign.

"George won by eight points in a tough district, but he did it with a really suspect background and misrepresenting himself," Williams said Thursday on Newsmax. Williams was not available for an interview with WRVO.

Williams said Santos should return to private life in order to get rid of the distraction for the GOP conference.

"I have a very high standard for being straightforward and George has fallen short of that by a wide margin," Williams said.

Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) disagrees, saying she wants to see actual criminal action. Her stance is similar to Republican Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy — that it's up to the voters of Santos’ district to decide.

"I am not calling on George to resign at this moment," Tenney said during a news conference Thursday. "I want to see what an investigation or a campaign finance issue reveals. I don't want to interfere with the voters of the 3rd district."

The next chance voters could have a say is two years from now in the next election as Margaret Thompson, a professor of political science at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University points out.

"The voters who elected Mr. Santos did so on the basis of the way he presented himself, which, as we now know, included a lot of fabricated information," Thompson said. "They decided on the basis of his false pretenses. So they can't really decide. There's no mechanism for a recall election."

There is no legal requirement to tell the truth in politics. Tenney said Santos isn't the only politician who's lied in their career.

"We have plenty of people in politics, including our own president, who have lied repeatedly throughout their careers," said Tenney, "and he's serving in the top office, not only in the nation, but in the world."

Thompson said there's a key difference between the two. She said the American public knew about allegations about President Joe Biden and even former President Donald Trump and they voted for them anyway. Voters did not have this information about Santos until after he was elected.

"If people decide that they will vote for somebody, regardless of what they may have done in their past, that's one thing," Thompson said. "But if they vote under the misconception that somebody is what they say they are and then they find out later when it's too late that [it] is wrong. That's a very different situation."

Thompson also notes that the Republican majority margin is very narrow and if Santos were to resign there is a good chance a Democrat could take that seat, making the Republican margin even narrower.

The U.S. House Committee on Ethics could make a recommendation to the House for a vote to expel. That vote requires a supermajority. Thompson said she sees a possibility of Santos being expelled, especially if it is proven that he broke the law.

“I think some Republicans would vote against Mr. Santos, who they see as something of an embarrassment to their party," Thompson said. "I think a lot of Democrats would clearly vote, so I don't think it would be a strictly party-line vote.”

If every Democrat voted to expel Santos, nearly 80 Republicans would also need to join.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.