WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — New York Congressman George Santos is facing federal charges, including money laundering and fraud, after turning himself in and entering a not guilty plea in court.
Santos is charged with theft of public funds for collecting pandemic unemployment insurance even though authorities say he had a job.
“This is about innocent until proven guilty,” Santos said.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy says he won’t immediately ask for Santos’ resignation unless he’s convicted.
“If a person is indicted, they’re not on committees, they have the right to vote, but they have to go to trial,” McCarthy said.
Democrats say Santos should step down.
“Hopefully he shows some humility, some dignity,” Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) said.
Additionally, Republican Texas Congressman Tony Gonzalez wants the House to vote to expel Santos.
However, Santos said he will not resign and plans to run for re-election.
The U.S. House makes its own rules for how the chamber operates and there are no set rules that indicate what should happen if a member of Congress faces criminal charges.
Democrat Jimmy Gomez says even if a member is convicted of a crime, that person could technically still vote on legislation, perhaps by proxy.
“There’s no rule against it, like he could still be a member in good standing, as long as the majority, kind of, decides,” Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) said.
But the California representative says if Santos is convicted and doesn’t resign, he expects there would be enough support to force Santos out.
“I think if he was convicted a lot of people would step up and submit a vote to expel him,” Gomez said.