(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Anthony D’Esposito and several other New York Republicans are pushing to stop embattled GOP colleague George Santos from potentially making money from his fame if he is indicted or convicted of certain crimes, according to legislation introduced Tuesday.
It’s a move that D’Esposito and the others, who have worked to distance themselves from their fellow freshman lawmaker, say is about holding members of Congress accountable — though Santos was “an inspiration” for their proposal.
“No one should be able to profit off lying to the American people and swindling their way into the people’s house,” D’Esposito, who introduced the legislation, said at a Tuesday press conference.
The “No Fortune for Fraud Act” would prevent House members “from receiving compensation for biographies, media appearances, or expressive or creative works” if they have been convicted of financial offenses or campaign finance fraud, according to the bill’s text.
A separate resolution, the “No Fame for Fraud Resolution,” offers a similar proposal that would alter the House rules to prohibit members from being paid for their celebrity status if they are indicted for finance or fraud crimes.
“If you’re defrauding the American people, if you’re making a mockery out of the people’s house or violating campaign finance law, you should not be able to turn it into a payday,” D’Esposito said at the press conference, where he introduced the two pieces of legislation.
The legislation is co-sponsored by New York freshmen Republicans Reps. Nick LaLota, Nick Langworthy, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro and Brandon Williams.
“He’s trying to use his new infamy to enrich himself, to further what he set out to do three years ago, to use his persona as a public figure to enrich himself,” LaLota argued to reporters on Tuesday. “And we New York Republicans can smell a scam from a mile away. And George Santos’ scam absolutely stinks.”
D’Esposito said that the group of lawmakers has had conversations with GOP leadership about their legislation and are “confident” that it will make it to the House floor for consideration.
While Santos’ name isn’t specifically mentioned in the text or resolution, a spokesperson for D’Esposito told ABC News that “Santos was certainly an inspiration for it.”
In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Santos said, “It is unfortunate that after two years of abysmal policies that been put forth by House Democrats and the Biden Administration that there is a legislative focus on a specific Member of Congress. As a legislative body, our top priorities should be tackling high inflation as well as reducing high levels of crime.”
D’Esposito took another view. He said Tuesday that he could both fight for his district while also pushing for accountability for controversial members like Santos.
“I gave my word to the people of the 4th Congressional District back in Nassau County that I would fight for them, for their interests and for community values. Now as members of Congress, we’re going to continue to do that. But we’re going to hold those accountable that have violated the trust of not only the American people, but the people of the great state of New York,” he said.
Santos, who has admitted lying about parts of his biography while being challenged about other parts of his life, such as how his mother died, faces multiple probes from prosecutors in New York as well as Congress, amid calls for his resignation.
He has denied criminal wrongdoing and insisted he will continue to serve his constituents.
The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it had voted to establish an “Investigative Subcommittee” into Santos to look into numerous allegations against him, including about his campaign finances.
Santos previously told ABC News he would “100%” comply with the Ethics Committee’s investigation.
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