George Santos’ constituents feel a mix of regret and resignation

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ALBERTSON, NY – Sitting in the basement of an American Legion building, an American flag draped in the corner and the sounds of a church rock band playing overhead, a group gathered for a local Republican club meeting to discuss one thing: Representative George Santos.

“Every day that he is still there, we suffer. I mean, it’s become a joke on late night talk shows, but to us, it’s not funny because we deserve a real congressman,” said North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, who endorsed Santos during his campaign but has since called him to resign.

Santos’ (RN.Y.) constituents say they once saw him as a new face of the Republican Party, a promising candidate who could wrest New York’s 3rd Congressional District from Democratic control. During his campaign, Santos touted his success as a businessman and his lineage as a first-generation American with roots in Brazil. He promised to work to reduce inflation, fight crime and secure the southern border of the United States.

But Santos’ term in Congress was thrown into turmoil before it even began, when the New York Times reported that he made up large chunks of his resume, despite having an MBA from New York University and working for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. – none of them exist. right

What followed, seemingly every day, painted a picture of Santos as a serial fabulist, from small embellishments to statements that are now being investigated by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York. He has faced calls from his Republican colleagues in the House to resign, as well as from local Republican officials.

Nassau County, NY GOP Chairman Joseph Cairo said Jan. 11 that Rep. George Santos (RN.Y.) should resign after lying about his background. (Video: Washington Post)

Track the lies of Republican Representative George Santos

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Santos admitted some embellishments about his past, but said he would not resign.

At the center of the drama are the 746,449 constituents in the Santos district, which spans from parts of northeastern Queens to the cities along the North Shore on Long Island. In interviews with The Washington Post over the course of several days, residents who support Santos said they both regretted their election and resigned from his status as a member of Congress.

But the prevailing sentiment, among Republicans and Democrats alike, was raw anger and a sense of betrayal.

“George Santos deceived us. He misled the Republicans and he misled the Democrats,” said Jody Kass Finkel, co-founder of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a nonpartisan residents’ group that is calling on Santos to resign. “He’s a liar. He’s a fraud. And maybe he is. is guilty.”

‘The damage is already done’

In Manhasset, a town that exemplifies the places where Santos hit hard, salons, clothing boutiques, and artisan bakeries and cafes line old brick stores. The town is a few train stops from Manhattan, where many of the area’s residents work. The suburbs are home to sprawling, multi-million dollar homes, country clubs and private schools.

Joe Biden won the district by nine points in 2020. But in 2022, concerns over public safety, immigration and the economy kept Santos in the seat against Democratic challenger Robert Zimmerman, shifting the seat from Democratic to Republican control.

Despite Santos’ objections, several Nassau County voters admitted they thought it would be better for a Republican to hold the seat than to open it up to another election and risk losing it to a Democrat.

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Henry Golis, an Albertson resident who is involved with the Albertson/Roslyn Heights Republican Club, said he voted for Santos because of his views on securing the southern border and boosting the economy. He said recent reports about Santos’ making were “shocking”, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

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“The damage has already been done. He said before now that I will not resign.” Golis said. “He’s going to see this play out. And now it’s up to Congress to decide where he is now, what they want to do with them.”

Several Republicans in Congress have called on Santos to resign or warned against working with him. Head of Home Inspection Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) called Santos a “bad guy” and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) called him a “fraudster.”

Despite calls for his resignation and public concern, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not join calls for Santos to step down and appointed him to two committees. McCarthy has a slim four-vote majority in the House, and earlier this month, Santos voted to support him over all 15 votes McCarthy needs to win the speakership.

On January 11, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters. (Video: Washington Post)

“I’m trying to stand by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve,” McCarthy told reporters on Jan. 11. “If there is a concern, and it has to go through the Ethics (Committee), let it go.”

Santos has said he will continue in office, but maintaining that position for two years of his term may be a stretch.

He is under investigation by federal prosecutors who are looking into his finances and whether he broke the law while on the job. And Brazilian authorities announced they were reviving a 2008 case involving Santos and the stolen checkbook. Law enforcement officials initially dropped the case after they were unable to locate Santos but said they would drop the fraud charges against Santos and seek a “formal response” from the New York congressman.

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Kim Keiserman, 51, a registered Democrat and member of Concerned Citizens of the United States, said: “We are in this dangerous position of being represented by fraudsters and fraudsters, and that really means that we are not represented at all. .” 03. “He’s really a piece on both sides of the aisle, so there’s just no scenario under which he’s going to be an effective legislator or, you know, a real voice for our district.”

Several people who told The Post they voted for Santos said they regretted their decision, or expressed anger at Santos for making parts of his personal and professional story.

“I’m completely disgusted by this, that someone would lie like that on their resume and then call it a garnishment. I think it’s absolutely outrageous,” said Anthony Raimondi, a 62-year-old resident of Manhasset.

He was asked if he would vote again for Santos, Raimondi “Of course not,” he replied.

At the meeting in the basement of the American Legion, former Rep. John LeBoutillier (RN. Y), who broke party lines to support Santos’ Democratic challenger, compared Santos to former President Donald Trump, telling them ” including two sheep.”

“These guys lie about everything,” he said. “It’s sad to say that this is what we have become as a party.”

Some in the group asked LeBoutillier why Republicans in Congress did not immediately vote to remove Santos from office.

His answer was simple: “Kevin McCarthy wasn’t ready to drop him until now.”

After the meeting ended, people stood in the room, with some saying they now understood the news about Santos and Congress’s complications better. Others remained adamant that the national political consequences of removing Santos from office would be more damaging.

“My heart says yes [Santos should be removed or resign]but my brain says [McCarthy] can’t because they need a seat,” said Howard Abbondondelo, an Albertson resident. “But I’m not going to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner, that’s for sure.”

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