George Santos says he’ll ditch GOP, run as independent, in bid to return to Congress after expulsion

Mar 22, 2024, 3:41 PM

Former U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York said Friday that he will leave the Republican Party and run as an independent in a bid to return to Congress after having been expelled while facing federal fraud charges.

In social media postings, Santos criticized Friday’s vote by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives to approve a $1.2 trillion package of spending bills.

“After today’s embarrassing showing in the house I have reflected and decided that I can no longer be part of the Republican Party,” Santos said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The Republican Party continues to lie and swindle its voter base. I in good conscience cannot affiliate myself with a party that stands for nothing and falls for everything.”

Santos announced earlier this month that he was challenging Republican Rep. Nick LaLota in the GOP primary in an eastern Long Island district that is different than the one he represented before he was expelled. Among those vying to be the Democratic candidate for the seat is John Avlon, a former CNN anchor.

In December, Santos became just the sixth member in history to be expelled by fellow House colleagues, following a critical House Ethics Committee report that cited “overwhelming evidence” of lawbreaking by Santos.

Santos has pleaded not guilty to charges including lying to Congress about his wealth, receiving unemployment benefits he didn’t deserve, and using campaign contributions to pay for personal expenses like designer clothing.

A judge has tentatively scheduled the trial for September, after the primary.

Santos, who has admitted to lying about his job experience and college education during his previous campaign, was bashed again Friday by New York Republicans, who also criticized him when he announced his candidacy.

“George Santos’ expulsion from Congress was good for the nation and his resignation from the Republican Party is good for commonsense conservatives,” LaLota said in a statement. “Santos can watch me defend this important swing district and the November election results from his prison cell as he’s being held accountable for stealing an election and ripping off donors.”

Jesse Garcia, the Suffolk County GOP chair, also weighed in.

“This is nothing more than the continuation of George Santos’ need for celebrity status,” Garcia said in a phone interview. “There is no appetite amongst the voters of the First District, Long Island or even the nation for the Santos clown car show to continue.”

In his X postings, Santos criticized LaLota for voting in favor of the spending package.

@nicklalota and @JohnAvlon ill see you boys in November!” Santos wrote, ending the tweet with a kissing emoji.

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George Santos says he’ll ditch GOP, run as independent, in bid to return to Congress after expulsion