The House Ethics Committee said Thursday it has opened an investigation into Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican who has acknowledged having lied about his background and whose finances are the subject of multiple law enforcement probes.
In a statement, the committee said it will "determine whether Representative George Santos may have: engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office."
The announcement noted that "the mere fact of establishing an Investigative Subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred."
Santos' office tweeted that he's "fully cooperating" with the investigation. "There will be no further comment made at this time,” the tweet said.
Santos has acknowledged having fabricated some aspects of his background, including his education and work experience, but he has denied any criminal wrongdoing. He has maintained his campaign finances, including hefty loans he made to himself, were aboveboard.
The investigative subcommittee will be chaired by David Joyce, R-Ohio, with Susan Wild, D-Pa., as its ranking member. The other members of the subcommittee are John Rutherford, R-Fla., and Glenn Ivey, D-Md.
Numerous questions about Santos’ biography have swirled since a New York Times investigation after his election last year showed that much of his background appeared to have been manufactured, including claims that he owned numerous properties, was previously employed by Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and had attended and graduated from Baruch College.
The report also raised questions about his campaign finances. Campaign filings showed Santos lent his most recent campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars, but when he first ran for Congress in 2020, he said on a campaign finance form that he was making $55,000 a year.
Campaign filings last year indicated that he made millions of dollars in 2021. He told the news site Semafor this year that he made his money legitimately through his company’s “capital introduction” business.
He has also been accused of raising money for a homeless veteran with a sick dog and then disappearing with the cash, an allegation he has denied, and of sexually harassing a volunteer in his office. Santos told CNN last month that the harassment allegation was "comical." "Of course, I deny that claim," he said.
The volunteer sent a letter about the alleged harassment to the Ethics Committee, which is empowered to investigate members.
If the panel finds wrongdoing, it can send a resolution to the full House for disciplinary action, the severest of which is removal. It takes a two-thirds vote of the House to remove a lawmaker.
In January, two New York Democratic lawmakers hand-delivered a complaint to Santos that they had filed with the House Ethics Committee, seeking an investigation into his “failure to file timely, accurate and complete financial disclosure reports.”
The FBI is investigating the homeless veteran's allegations about the missing fundraising money, as well as Santos’ campaign finances, NBC News has reported. Santos is also being investigated by the Nassau County district attorney’s office, and the New York attorney general’s office has said it’s “looking into a number of issues” tied to him.
In a separate action Thursday, the committee announced it was extending its review of the conduct of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y. The panel is reviewing a referral it received from the Office of Congressional Ethics last year over an allegation that Ocasio-Cortez “may have accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021.” In a letter to the committee this week, a lawyer for Ocasio-Cortez denied that she broke any House rules or federal laws.