Washington — The House Ethics Committee has opened a formal investigation into embattled GOP Rep. George Santos of New York, the panel announced Thursday.
The committee's Republican and Democratic leaders, Reps. Michael Guest and Susan Wild, said in a statement that the panel unanimously voted to establish an investigative subcommittee, which is tasked with examining whether Santos engaged in misconduct.
The subcommittee "shall have jurisdiction to 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 statement said.
Rep. David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, will chair the investigative subcommittee and Wild will serve as the ranking member. Reps. John Rutherford, a Florida Republican, and Glenn Ivey, a Maryland Democrat, will also sit on the panel.
"The Committee notes that the mere fact of establishing an Investigative Subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred," Guest and Wild said.
Santos's office said he is "fully cooperating" with the investigation.
Santos, a freshman congressman representing New York's 3rd Congressional District on Long Island, has been under scrutiny for a myriad of falsehoods about his background and questions about his 2022 congressional campaign since December, when a New York Times investigation found he misrepresented numerous aspects of his career. Santos admitted to "embellishing" his resume, but more details about his past have continued to emerge.
During a 2017 court appearance at a bail hearing for a "family friend," Santos falsely told a Seattle judge he worked for Goldman Sachs, though he has now admitted he never worked directly for the investment firm. He also was questioned by the U.S. Secret Service in 2017 as part of an investigation into international credit card fraud, though his connection to the case remains unclear and he was not identified as a suspect in the probe.
Federal and state investigators are looking into his finances, including the financing of his 2022 congressional campaign, his work for a company that allegedly orchestrated a Ponzi scheme, and his alleged role in purporting to raise money for a veteran's dying dog through a pet charity. Santos has denied wrongdoing in those matters.
Santos is also the target of complaints to the Federal Election Commission over his campaign spending. And a prospective staffer who interviewed for a job in Santos's congressional office sent the Ethics Committee a letter accusing the congressman of sexual misconduct.
Two Democrats in New York's congressional delegation, Reps. Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman, filed a formal complaint with the House Ethics panel in January, alleging Santos violated federal ethics law by failing to file timely and accurate financial disclosure reports.
Santos's mounting troubles have left him with few allies on Capitol Hill, and he's faced numerous calls to resign, including from fellow New York Republicans. Santos has rebuffed suggestions he step down, though, he did recuse himself from serving on two House committees, citing the "ongoing attention" surrounding the investigations into his personal and campaign finances.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly said any decision about Santos's future in Congress will be made by voters in his district.