Dozens of George Santos's constituents traveled from their New York district to the Capitol on Tuesday to call for the congressman to resign. The move follows weeks of outrage at the revelations that the Republican lawmaker fabricated large portions of his résumé in his successful quest for office.
"On behalf of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, why are we here? Why did we come to Washington? We are here because Speaker McCarthy apparently cannot hear us when we speak from Long Island, so we had to come to Washington to make sure he hears us," said Jody Kass Finkel, coordinator of the pressure group created in the past weeks with the sole goal of getting Santos "removed from squatting in our seat in the House of Representatives".
"Santos is a grifter and now he's grifting his way to Congress, to a congressperson salary of about $174,000 a year and benefits. Nobody trusts him. And as a result, he is impotent as a member of Congress in his ability to represent us."
Earlier on Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy confirmed to CNN that he expects the House ethics committee to investigate the congressman, who last week announced he would not serve on any committees until the many allegations against him are resolved. Beyond that, the justice department is investigating Santos for potential campaign finance violations, while a former aide has accused him of sexual harassment.
But Santos also clearly benefits the Republican House majority, who have only four seats standing between them and a return to the minority. Were he to resign, that margin of error would grow ever slimmer - but that doesn't mean the GOP is doing nothing.
At a press conference held outside the Capitol amid a flurry of preparation ahead of Tuesday evening's the State of the Union address by Joe Biden, Santos's constituents spoke of the consequences of being represented by an admitted fabulist.
"We're laughing a little bit about some of his lies, but one thing that's really not funny is that this is a community that at 9/11, we lost over 400 people on Long Island alone," said Ben Marzouk, a Republican constituent from Santos's district, which includes a small part of New York City and several suburban communities.
"That's not funny, to say that your mother was part of that. You have to be really psychologically impaired to throw that around," Marzouk said, referencing Santos's debunked claim that his mother was working at the World Trade Center when the attack happened.
Teacher Taiba Ahmad said she had worked with Santos's Democratic predecessor to get an interpreter from Afghanistan into the US.
"But, I still have other cases that are ongoing and I need to be able to follow up with my congressman. Unfortunately, I cannot trust George Santos and his staff with something this sensitive," Ahmad said.
"Constituents depend on their member of Congress daily to assist them with issues, some as unusual as mine, but even for everyday things like filing taxes or applying for government services. Would you trust Mr Santos with your personal information?" Ahmad asked.
Later in the day, the group made the rounds of congressional offices, dropping off a petition demanding Santos's removal at the offices of McCarthy and Michael Guest, the Republican chair of the ethics committee.
When they arrived at Santos's office, Vish Burra, the lawmaker's director of operations to whom the group had previously handed the petition during an encounter outside the Capitol, answered the door.
"I'll make sure this gets to your representative," said Burra. As members of the group asked to meet with Santos, Burra did not respond, and walked back inside.