House Speaker Kevin McCarthy responded to reports that one of George Santos’s staffers had passed themselves off as his chief of staff in campaign calls to Republicans on Tuesday, and declined still to make a forceful condemnation of the newly elected congressman.
A staffer named Sam Miele is accused of posing at Mr McCarthy’s chief of staff Dan Meyer and soliciting donations from supporters in 2021 — an accusation that could potentially have legal implications depending on what was actually said during the calls.
Mr McCarthy has largely tried to avoid commenting on the House’s most controversial member, as Mr McCarthy consolidated control over the speakership in a marathon voting session that lasted more than a dozen rounds.
Now, as the makeup of the 118th Congress takes shape, Republican leaders are feeling more pressure to explain what role Mr Santos will play.
Of the attempt to fundraise off of his name, Mr McCarthy responded: "It happened and I know they corrected, but I was not notified about that until a later day."
He added that he “always had a few questions” about the background of the New York Republican, who has admitted now to faking most of his resume.
But Mr McCarty wouldn’t say that it rose to the level of wrongdoing that should get Mr Santos expelled from Congress, though last week he told reporters that the congressman would likely face an ethics investigation.
“The voters made the decision, and he has a right to serve here,” he said last week. “If there is something that rises to the occasion that he did something wrong, then we’ll deal with that at that time.”
Mr Santos faces calls for his resignation from a number of House Republicans and House Democrats, including many hailing from his home district in New York. He has said that he will serve a full term even as probes into his activity have been opened by state and federal investigators and he faces near-total ostracisation in the House.