House Democrats accuse vulnerable NY Republicans of supporting Santos

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.)
Greg Nash
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is seen before a joint address to Congress from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) put out a video Thursday attacking five New York Republican House members for not moving to expel embattled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.).

“New York’s extreme MAGA Republicans protected George Santos,” text in the video reads. 

The video, from the campaign arm of House Democrats, takes aim at New York Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro and Nick LaLota. All five voted to refer a resolution of Santos’s expulsion to the House Ethics Panel in May, despite previous criticism of him.

“Nick LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, and Brandon Williams turned their backs on New Yorkers by voting to protect an admitted criminal — making it crystal clear they stand with MAGA extremists over New York voters,” DCCC spokesperson Ellie Dougherty said in a statement attached to a press release on the video.

Santos faces 13 federal criminal charges related to alleged financial crimes. He became the center of controversy after his election in the 2022 midterms for his falsification of his background when running for Congress.

His referral to the House Ethics Panel effectively delayed efforts to expel him, sending the question to committee rather than a floor vote. The GOP holds a slim majority in the upper chamber.

Lawler, who is among a number of Republicans who have openly criticized Santos, called on him to resign ahead of the May vote on his expulsion.

“His conduct is embarrassing and unbecoming, and has proven to be a serious distraction from the important work the House Republican Majority is doing,” Lawler said in a statement at the time.

D’Esposito also issued a strongly worded statement ahead of the vote, arguing that referring Santos to the ethics panel was the quickest way to remove him from Congress because there was not a two-thirds majority in the full chamber needed to expel him outright.

“I fully support expelling the disgusting liar George Santos from the House of Representatives and was one of the first to call for both his resignation and expulsion,” he said.

In a statement sent Thursday from his campaign email, D’Esposito director of communications Matt Capp said the DCCC’s video is a distraction by Democrats.

“In order to distract the public from Washington Democrats’ failing record on inflation, the migrant crisis, and a long list of other issues, it is unsurprising to find the DCCC is attempting to mischaracterize Congressman D’Esposito’s consistent record of advocating for George Santos’ expulsion from Congress, which is a position D’Esposito continues to hold,” Capp said. 

An adviser to Molinaro’s campaign seemed to echo Capp’s statement on the video being a distraction.

“It’s political malpractice that the Washington Democrats are spending money to remind voters of Molinaro bashing Santos while the Biden-Hochul migrant crisis is overwhelming the state,” Dave Catalfamo said.

Lawler also responded to the video, saying “thanks to the DCCC for highlighting the fact that I have called for George Santos to resign.”

The Hill has also reached out Williams and LaLota.

Updated at 10:15 p.m.

Tags Anthony D'Esposito Brandon Williams DCCC George Santos george santos investigation House Ethics Committee Marc Molinaro Michael Lawler New York Nicolas LaLota