Protestors Demand Santos Resign, Lawmakers Call for House Ethics Investigation

Alan Krawitz

December 30, 2022

Originally published in Long Island Press on December 30, 2022.

More than 200 people rallied in Mineola Thursday to demand that Rep.-elect George Santos resign while several Democratic leaders called for additional investigations following allegations that much of Santos’ biography was fabricated, as well as concerns of potentially illegal conduct.

Amid chants of “Resign, resign,” and “New York 3, Santos free,” Democratic Sen. Anna Kaplan spoke in front of the Nassau County Courthouse and said, “Our entire community has been victimized, and we demand accountability. George Santos must be investigated by all appropriate authorities, particularly surrounding his shady business dealings and mystery millions that seem to have appeared overnight despite having no legitimate career to speak of.”

Signs at the event were direct and to the point, with messages including “Do not reward a liar,” “Santos: Elected under false pretenses,” and “Fake Jew, Real Gonif.” Gonif is a Yiddish word meaning disreputable person. 

In addition to numerous ongoing investigations into Santos’ conduct, the Nassau GOP said on Thursday evening that it won’t be supporting Santos if he seeks reelection in 2024. 

Joseph Cairo, the Nassau County Republican Party chairman, released a statement in part, saying “I don’t know what party would endorse him as a candidate.”

Santos, who won election in November by beating former public relations executive Robert Zimmerman in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, is currently under investigation by Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly’s office and New York Attorney General Letitia James related to a series of questions regarding possible false statements and fabrications about Santos’ education, work experience, and financial dealings.

Federal prosecutors in New York’s Eastern District are also reportedly “looking into” some of Santos’ finances although it’s unclear whether an official investigation is underway. 

The embattled Rep.-elect also claimed to be Jewish with grandparents that survived the Holocaust, two claims that hit home with Jewish leaders.

Kaplan, an Iranian Jew who left Iran during the Islamic revolution for safety reasons, added, “And we all deserve an apology for [Santos’] reprehensible lies about his nonexistent Jewish faith and his completely fake connection to the Holocaust.”  

Rabbi Deborah Bravo, from the progressive congregation Makom NY, also took exception to Santos’ claims of being Jewish. 

“We all deserve better than this … Mr. Santos has not provided to us any level of character that’s acceptable,” she said. “I stand before you as a Jew who is appalled that George Santos proclaimed his Jewish roots without any basis in facts … There is no such thing as being ‘Jew-ish.'”  

Bravo also called Santo’s false claims of connection to Holocaust survivors “unimaginable” and “beyond reproach.”

Earlier this week, the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement from CEO Matt Brooks pulling the group’s support of Santos.

“We are very disappointed in Congressman-elect Santos,” the statement said. “He deceived us and misrepresented his heritage … He will not be welcome at any future RJC event.”

Lynda Beigel Shulman, a gun safety advocate and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, called out Santos for “lies that are insulting and demeaning” to every child of a Holocaust survivor. She said, “I know because I am a child of a Holocaust survivor.”

She admonished him for his outright lies and fabrications, saying “Integrity matters.”  

Santo’s campaign did not respond to calls and emails from the Press requesting comment. 

Congressman-elect Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) also supported Democratic leaders in their calls for a House Ethics Committee investigation into Santos’ background and statements. 

On Tuesday, LaLota said in a statement that “New Yorkers deserve the truth and House Republicans deserve the opportunity to govern without this distraction.” 

Angel Reyes, a Latino community leader and immigration reform advocate, joked, “I’m crossing my fingers that Santos also lied about his Latino heritage.”  

He said he hopes Nassau County officials and others will investigate Santos. “We must hold George Santos accountable for his lies,” he said, adding that the community must continue to organize. 

Jody Kass Finkel, a resident of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, urged people to sign an online petition calling on Santos to resign.

She said, “The lies from George Santos are offensive to every voter, regardless of party affiliation … It is not intended to be party-specific, as we are all going to have to live with this charlatan representing us.” 

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jen DeSena took Santos’ fabrications personally, saying in a statement that she was “deceived when asked to endorse him.” 

Officially withdrawing her support from Santos, DeSena said, “I join others who have called for federal and state investigations. I am particularly disgusted with Mr. Santos misrepresenting family persecution during the Holocaust and his misuse of the term Jewish. False statements about the victims at the Pulse Nightclub massacre also are beyond the pale.”

She added, “Having failed to answer questions that the public has a right to know, Mr. Santos is not trustworthy and if he takes office will not have my support.” 

Former Democratic candidate Robert Zimmerman called for a House ethics investigation of Santos. “Let the investigation proceed at the state, county, and federal level … We need to make sure that George Santos, if his name is George Santos, does not make it into Congress.” 

He also called for a special election to fill the Santos’ seat.

Zimmerman said that this is not just about the results of an election but about “protecting our democracy and standing up for justice,” as the crowd chanted, “Don’t seat Santos.” 

Kaplan, in an interview following the rally, said, “My hope is that they don’t swear this national embarrassment into office, that they should wait.

“Let the process play out and then take action,” she added. “It’s outrageous in every sense of the word.”