It was a chant that echoed in front of the Nassau County Courthouse on Thursday: “New York Three, Santos free.”
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Mineola building expressing their anger at U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos, calling for the politician to step aside from representing the 3rd Congressional District after admitting that much of the story he provided of his life and career were fabricated.
They were led by a number of local politicians like outgoing state Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assemblyman Charles Lavine, community leaders, and even the man Santos defeated in the November general election: Robert Zimmerman. They demanded that if Santos didn’t step down, that presumptive incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and relevant authorities in Congress investigate Santos.
“This moment is not about Democrat or Republican politics,” Zimmerman said. “This moment is about protecting our democracy, standing up for justice, standing together in unity.”
Santos has admitted to “embellishing” his resume, which included claims that he worked for prestigious financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and that he earned degrees from institutions like Baruch College — none of which were true. He also addressed reports that he claimed to be Jewish and descended from Holocaust survivors, saying he has described himself not as “Jewish,” but as “Jew-ish,” slang for saying that he was “kind of” Jewish.
Santos says he will take his oath on Jan. 3 with the rest of the new congressional members, which will help give Republicans a slim majority in the House. McCarthy is limited in his ability to prevent Santos from being seated, but other congressional members — including Republicans — have called for, at the very least, an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
Prosecutors at a number of jurisdictional levels — including the U.S. District Attorney’s office and Nassau County district attorney Anne Donnelly — say they are looking into Santos’ comments to determine if any laws had been broken. Santos denies he broke any laws, telling reporters “I am not a criminal.”