Republican Lee Zeldin said that Representative George Santos needs to step down from his post in Washington.
Zeldin, a former congressman who lost the most recent gubernatorial election in New York, said that voters in Santos’ district are “embarrassed” by what the first-term lawmaker has done already, with so many different scandals that he’s the center of.
Zeldin made these comments while giving an interview to the New York Post recently. He also warned what the far-reaching consequences on the Republican Party in the House of Representatives could be as a result of Santos’ actions.
According to Zeldin, the biggest concern the House GOP could have with the Santos ordeal is that voters might associate other first-term GOP House members with Santos himself, and then potentially vote them out the next time they’re up for election.
If these specific members of Congress are in swing districts, they could face very difficult campaigns for re-election. Zeldin said that the campaigns could be tough enough as they are, and they “don’t need or want” distractions from Santos making it even worse.
Zeldin, who served as a representative from New York between 2015 and 2023, said:
“If I were him (Santos), I would have resigned. The people who voted for him are more upset than the people who didn’t vote for him.”
Just last week, the Department of Justice charged Santos with a plethora of federal criminal charges, including wire fraud (seven counts), money laundering (three counts), theft of public records (one count) and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives (two counts).
Santos, who pleaded not guilty to all of the federal charges levied against him while appearing in court last Wednesday, insisted that he won’t resign from office, though.
After he was arraigned in Long Island federal court last week, Santos spoke with reporters, saying the case is a “witch hunt” against him and that he vows to “clear my name” after all these charges.
In addition to emphatically saying, “I will not resign,” Santos confirmed that he indeed has plans to seek re-election come 2024.
The 34-year-old Santos is being accused of taking some of his campaign funds and spending them on car payments and luxury clothing, receiving unemployment benefits that totaled more than $24,000, and reporting incorrect asset and income data on disclosure forms required by the House.
A spokeswoman for the Long Island courthouse said that Santos was released on a bond of $500,000 after his arraignment on Wednesday. In a press release, Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney in the case, said:
“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations. Taken together, the allegations in this indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself.”
Santos’ next court date is scheduled for June 30.
If he were to be found guilty of all the charges against him, Santos could face up to 20 years in prison, the DOJ said.