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Santos recused himself from House committees. Poll says his district wants him to resign

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, 2023.
Andrew Harnik
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, 2023.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has volunteered to step down from his House committee assignments while investigations are underway into possible campaign finance fraud. A survey of his Long Island constituents suggests Santos should never have been assigned in the first place.

Over 600 voters from New York’s third congressional district participated in the Siena College/Newsday Poll released Tuesday.

Don Levy, the director of Siena College Research Institute, said the poll, conducted last week, echoed messaging from House GOP leadership.

“It appears as though when George Santos met with the Republican caucus when he met with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, that on this point, they agreed with voters of the third congressional district that he should not be seated on this committee,” Levy said.

Earlier in the month, Santos was placed on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Small Business Committee.

He was in a closed-door meeting Monday with McCarthy, the House speaker (R-CA). Speaking to reporters Tuesday, McCarthy called Santos’ recusal “an appropriate decision.”

McCarthy said Santos told him he would stay off the committees, “until he could clear everything up.”

Federal, state and local investigations are underway into campaign finance irregularities and possible ethical violations. Santos has admitted to lying on his resume to get elected, but denies criminal activities, including being a straw donor and misusing campaign funds.

While New York and Long Island Republicans have called for his resignation, House GOP leadership has maintained it would deal with Santos internally.

Santos has said he “wouldn’t resign until the 142,000 people that voted for him, ask him to resign.”

Seventy-eight percent of Santos’ district that participated in the Siena poll said he should resign immediately, including 71% of Republicans. Santos has a favorability rating of 7%. 

“The voters of the third district are telling us that they're following the story very closely today, that perhaps they didn't know who George Santos was at the time of the election,” Levy said. “They do now. And right now, they don't think he can effectively serve them as their elected representative.”

“And this is an indictment not only of George Santos, but to many of our public figures and elected officials,” he added.

The poll also found overall dissatisfaction with government and its leadership, including:

  • Unfavorable views of Donald Trump (29-66%), President Joe Biden (45-50%), House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (30-52%), and Governor Kathy Hochul (41-48%), while they view former Rep. Lee Zeldin (42-38%) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (36-24%) favorably.
  • Voters (66-25%) think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
  • Voters (84-12%) believe that most public figures, when caught in the lie, are evasive, that they minimize the lie and blame others rather than taking responsibility.
A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.