Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Saturday that Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) will have to face the congressional ethics process over fabrications about his background and questions about his finances, but shouldn’t be “subject to shunning” by his fellow members of Congress.
“George Santos represents over 700,000 people in New York,” Gaetz told CNN’s Michael Smerconish. “And whether people like that or not, those people deserve to have members of Congress collaborating with the person who serves them.”
Gaetz added that he doesn’t want to prejudge Santos before the congressional ethics process has run its course.
“I think he deserves the chance to at least make his case,” the Florida Republican said.
Santos has faced calls to resign, including from within his own party, following revelations last month that he fabricated much of his resume. The first-term lawmaker admitted to lying about where he went to college and his previous professional experience throughout his campaign for Congress.
However, questions about Santos’ background go beyond his resume. During his unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2020, Santos reported a salary of $55,000 and no assets. However, just two years later, he loaned himself more than $700,000 for his 2022 campaign.
Gaetz questioned Santos about the source of the $700,000 loan while hosting a recent episode of Steve Bannon’s podcast War Room. However, Santos dodged the question, simply saying, “I’ll tell you where it didn’t come from — it didn’t come from China, Ukraine, or Burisma.”
The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan ethics watchdog, filed a complaint against Santos with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) earlier this week, accusing him of violating campaign finance laws.
“Particularly in light of Santos’s mountain of lies about his life and qualifications for office, the Commission should thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money,” the organization said in its complaint.
Two House Democrats have also filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee over allegations that Santos’ filed inaccurate financial disclosures.
However, Santos has so far refused to resign. While several Republicans have called on him to step aside, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has declined to call for his resignation, even though he has not appeared particularly enthusiastic about the embattled congressman.
“The voters of his district have elected him. He is seated. He is part of the Republican conference,” McCarthy said on Thursday.