George Santos Lands 2 House Committees: Small Business and Science
Even as calls grew for investigations into Representative George Santos and for his resignation, House Republican leadership on Tuesday gave the first-term congressman from New York seats on the Small Business and the Science, Space and Technology Committees, according to a person briefed on the assignments.
The committee placements are the clearest indication yet of the restrained approach with which Republican leaders are treating Mr. Santos amid a growing controversy over falsehoods on the campaign trail and questions about his fund-raising and spending reported last month in The New York Times.
Neither of Mr. Santos’s two committees are seen as a plum seats for lawmakers hoping to boost their profile on Capitol Hill, and they are not as highly regarded as the committees he had initially sought: either the House Financial Services or Foreign Affairs Committees. The person briefed on his assignments said that Mr. Santos had requested those positions from Republican leaders.
But the likelihood of Mr. Santos’s getting those posts diminished after he acknowledged misrepresenting his work in finance and after reports cast doubt on aspects of his background, including claims of Jewish ancestry.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, backed by a razor-thin majority that includes a faction threatening his leadership, has seen some of his delegation join Democrats in their call for Mr. Santos to resign. But Mr. McCarthy, whose bid to become speaker was backed by Mr. Santos, has refused to outwardly criticize him.
Last week, he said he would not push Mr. Santos to resign despite pleas from the Nassau County Republican Party and members of Mr. McCarthy’s own conference.
Mr. McCarthy has suggested that any potential wrongdoing needed to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee, which has been criticized by watchdog groups for being slow-moving. Two Democratic congressmen formally requested such an investigation last week, involving Mr. Santos’s financial disclosure forms.
More on the George Santos Controversy
- Behind The Times’s Investigation: The Times journalists Michael Gold and Grace Ashford discuss how Representative George Santos was elected to Congress and how they discovered that he was a fraud.
- Split View: New York Republicans are ready to rid themselves of the newly elected representative after his pattern of deception was revealed. But House Republican leaders badly need his vote.
- Facing Inquiries: Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether Mr. Santos committed crimes involving his finances or made misleading statements, while authorities in Brazil said they would revive a 2008 fraud case against him.
- Alternate Identities: A newly surfaced video shows Mr. Santos in 2019 using one of his alternate identities and urging members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community to embrace Republicans. The clip offers insight into Mr. Santos’s early forays into public political life.
Federal and local prosecutors have also said they are exploring whether Mr. Santos committed any crimes involving his admitted fabrications about his background, his finances or his campaign spending.
On Monday, Mr. McCarthy told CNN that he “always had a few questions” about Mr. Santos’s background. He also said he had spoken to Mr. Santos about an incident in which a Santos aide was caught impersonating Mr. McCarthy’s chief of staff while soliciting campaign donations.
Yet Mr. McCarthy has defended putting Mr. Santos on committees, nothing that his constituents elected him.
Mr. Santos, in an interview last week on a conservative podcast, “Bannon’s War Room,” seemed to backtrack on his initial aspirations and suggest more modest aims.
“I came to D.C. without really any preconceived notions of what committees to serve,” Mr. Santos said. He added, “Whatever committee I’m given, whether it’s, I don’t know, Science and Technology, or Education and Labor or whatever committee is thrown my way, I will deliver 110 percent.”
Mr. Santos’s communications director did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment on Tuesday.
It is not immediately clear how Mr. Santos will be treated by his fellow committee members; last week, Nassau County Republican leaders said that he was no longer welcome and that they would freeze him out of the day-to-day functioning of local government, barring him from local meetings and events.
Mr. Santos will take his seat on the Small Business Committee as he faces questions about his own firm, the Devolder Organization, which he said on financial disclosures paid him $700,000 and dividends between $1 million and $5 million.
The business has no public-facing presence, and Mr. Santos has provided little information about its operations, saying only that he did “deal building” and “specialty consulting” for a network of wealthy clients. Mr. Santos did not list any clients on a financial disclosure form filed last September despite a requirement to do so for any compensation above $5,000 from a single source.
When Mr. Santos first expressed interest in running for Congress, he provided a résumé to party officials that included work at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Both companies have told The Times they have no record of his ever having worked there.
Two earlier résumés posted on Indeed.com in 2017 and 2019 suggested that Mr. Santos had been claiming that background even earlier. Both documents use the name George Devolder, a name he used professionally in other contexts, and describe a similar trajectory to the one that Mr. Santos claimed on the campaign trail.
The 2017 résumé says that Mr. Santos was a bilingual customer service representative for Citigroup in 2011 and 2012, when he was actually working at a call center for Dish Network, and also worked as a financial adviser. In the 2019 résumé, Mr. Santos said he was “asset manager associate” at the firm, which sold off its asset management business in 2005.
Even as Republican leaders have shown little willingness to rebuke Mr. Santos, 10 Republican representatives, including six first-term members of Congress from New York, have urged him to step down.
Other representatives have condemned Mr. Santos’s actions but stopped short of demanding his resignation. On Sunday, Representative James Comer of Kentucky, the chairman of the House’s Oversight Committee, said that he had avoided speaking to Mr. Santos over his fabrications.
“I don’t approve of how he made his way to Congress, and I haven’t even introduced myself to him because it’s pretty despicable, the lies he told,” Mr. Comer said on CNN.
Still, Mr. Santos has not been entirely ostracized. Even on his first day in the House chamber, when he was largely treated as an outcast by fellow members, he chatted warmly with Representative Pat Fallon of Texas.
Mr. Fallon, a Republican, said in an interview that he told Mr. Santos that he would have to be more honest with voters going forward.
“One of the things I said was, ‘George, you have to be straight with folks, you can’t ever do it again and you have to make the best of the situation at this point,’ ” Mr. Fallon said. He declined to describe how Mr. Santos responded.
Emily Cochrane contributed reporting from Washington, and Jay Root from Albany, N.Y.