Embattled New York Congressman George Santos is facing more heat from New York Republicans calling on him to resign his seat now that the Justice Department has charged him with 13 counts, including wire fraud and money laundering, The New York Post reported.
Former Congressman Lee Zeldin, who was credited for spearheading the mini-Red Wave in New York during the 2022 midterms in which he ran for governor, told the New York Post over the weekend that constituents in NY-03 are “embarrassed” by their congressman, adding that those who voted for Santos are “more upset” with him than the ones who didn’t.
Zeldin told the Post that if he was George Santos, he would resign.
Last Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Long Island charged Santos with multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering, as well as one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making false statements to Congress.
After leaving the courthouse after entering a not-guilty plea, Santos told reporters that he is innocent and would not resign his seat. He said he intended to “fight the witch hunt” and clear his name.
The embattled congressman reiterated his plans to stay in office when he returned to Capitol Hill the following day, telling reporters that he will continue fighting for his constituents. When asked if he still planned to run for reelection in 2024, Santos said he did, adding that the election is still a way off and in the meantime, he intends to prove his innocence.
But Zeldin told the Post that first-term Republicans from swing districts will already face a difficult reelection in 2024 and they “don’t need or want” the distraction Santos’ indictment will bring.
Based on House rules, Santos is not required to resign his seat now that he is facing charges.
The rules state that a member who is charged with a felony that carries a prison term of more than 2 years must resign from committee assignments and step down from leadership as the legal process is underway.
However, Santos already resigned from his committee assignments in January. He is not a member of the GOP House leadership.