Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) is demanding that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) provide the public with a timeline of the Ethics Committee investigation into Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), one day after the House voted to refer a resolution to expel Santos to the notoriously slow-moving panel.
In a letter to McCarthy on Thursday, Garcia quoted the Speaker, who told reporters earlier this week that he wants the Ethics Committee to “move rapidly” in its investigation of Santos.
“Given your promises of swift action by the Ethics Committee, I hope that you will clarify the timeline by which we can expect the Ethics Committee to ‘move rapidly’ so that the House can take a transparent vote on whether Mr. Santos deserves to continue to serve as a member of this body,” Garcia, who introduced the expulsion resolution, wrote in the letter.
The California Democrat told reporters Thursday that he plans to demand a public timeline on the investigation “every single day.”
“And if he does not take action and give us a public timeline or not take action soon on this Ethics investigation, he’s gonna continue to hear from those of us on the floor and through and through legislation and removing Santos,” Garcia said.
The move to refer the expulsion resolution to the Ethics Committee is largely redundant because the panel has been looking into Santos since March, when it launched an investigation into whether he engaged in unlawful activity during his 2022 campaign and failed to properly disclose information to the House, among other questions.
Santos has been under mounting scrutiny since before he was sworn into office amid questions about his background and finances. Last week, prosecutors indicted him on 13 federal charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. He is accused of misleading campaign donors, fraudulently receiving COVID-19 unemployment benefits and disclosing false information on financial forms.
The congressman pleaded not guilty.
Garcia introduced the expulsion resolution in February but called it to the floor as a privileged resolution Tuesday, which forced McCarthy to move on the measure. Rather than bringing it to the floor, which would require two-thirds support to pass, or moving to table the measure, which would need majority support, the Speaker held a vote to refer the resolution to the Ethics Committee, which required at least half of the chamber to be on board.
The House voted to refer the resolution in a 221-204-7 vote. All five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee voted present, in addition to Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.). All other Democrats voted against referring the measure to the Ethics panel, and Republicans supported the move.
Garcia called the vote “cowardly” and warned that Republicans could face the vote “again in the future if they don’t take action with the Ethics Committee.”
The Hill reached out to McCarthy for comment.
Asked about the letter on Thursday, Santos said “transparency is great.”
In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), who called for Santos to resign and be expelled but voted to refer the resolution to the Ethics panel, said he expects the committee to complete its investigation in 60 days.
“While I would have preferred there to be enough votes to expel the sociopath scam artist, Congressman [Anthony] D’Esposito [R-N.Y.] has spearheaded the next best option: To refer this matter to the Ethics Committee where we expect a result within 60 days and for the terrible liar to be gone, by resignation or expulsion, before August recess,” he said.
Punchbowl News reported Thursday that the Justice Department privately requested that the Ethics Committee hold off on its probe of Santos, but the panel rebuffed the ask, according to several sources close to the issues. The committee is moving along with its own probe of Santos.