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Sunday, April 2, 2023

George Santos Signals Intention to Seek Re-election in 2024

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Representative George Santos, the embattled Republican from New York facing criminal inquiries and ethics investigations, filed paperwork on Tuesday indicating his intent to run for re-election.

The statement of candidacy filed with the Federal Election Commission does not guarantee that Mr. Santos, a first-term lawmaker representing parts of Long Island and Queens, will run for office next year.

But it allows Mr. Santos to continue to raise money and spend it on various campaign-related expenses, including paying back the roughly $700,000 he lent to his campaign and paying any potential legal fees connected to the inquiries that he is currently facing.

The filing also offers a clear signal that Mr. Santos is leaving the door open to defending his seat in Congress, even as he has been besieged by calls to resign from his constituents, a handful of local Republican officials in his district and fellow House members, including representatives from his own party.

Mr. Santos did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Mr. Santos’s political future has been severely questioned after revelations in The New York Times that he lied to voters about graduating from college, working for prestigious Wall Street firms and boasting an extensive real estate portfolio. Subsequent reporting by The Times and other outlets has also raised questions about his campaign’s fund-raising and spending practices.

Federal prosecutors have been examining Mr. Santos’s campaign finances and personal business dealings, and local prosecutors in New York have been exploring Mr. Santos’s behavior during his campaign. Last month, the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate whether Mr. Santos broke laws tied to his campaign filings or his personal business.

While Mr. Santos has admitted to fabricating parts of his résumé and biography, he has denied any criminal wrongdoing. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has maintained that Mr. Santos was duly elected, and that the House would only take action if its Ethics Committee found cause.

Yet many rank-and-file Republicans have raised concerns about Mr. Santos’s ability to properly serve constituents. Republicans in Nassau County on Long Island have said they would circumvent his office whenever possible, and 10 House Republicans have called on Mr. Santos to resign. Other Republican representatives have said they were hesitant to collaborate with Mr. Santos on legislation or party business.

Mr. Santos has said he would not leave office unless all those voters who supported his campaign last year called on him to do so. A poll in January by Newsday and Siena College found that 78 percent of voters in Mr. Santos’s district wanted him to step down, including 71 percent of Republicans surveyed.

Still, Mr. Santos appeared to bow to pressure in January, when he said he would temporarily recuse himself from sitting on two congressional committees. Mr. McCarthy said that he and Mr. Santos reached the decision jointly.

But Mr. Santos has repeatedly declined to answer questions about whether he planned to run for re-election.

In January, he repeatedly told reporters asking about his future plans that it was “too early” to answer. Last month, he told the Fox station in New York that he had not yet decided whether he would run in 2024.

Mr. McCarthy — who endorsed Mr. Santos and helped his campaign in 2022 — told reporters in Washington that he would “probably have a little difficulty” supporting Mr. Santos in a re-election bid.

Local Republicans have also voiced their opposition to re-electing Santos: Nassau County’s Republican committee, a powerful local party organization, has resolutely said it would not support him in 2024.

The F.E.C. requires candidates to register if they raise or spend more than $5,000 toward an election, a threshold that Mr. Santos passed at the end of last year, according to campaign finance reports. Incumbent politicians are generally quick to register regardless of whether they have decided to run again.

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