Several dozen protesters gathered on Saturday morning in front of Rep. George Santos’ district office in Douglaston, Queens – the second such protest this week, following a smaller gathering on Thursday.
The space is empty and the lights are off. The name of Santos’ predecessor, Tom Suozzi, is still on the windows and awning. There’s no sign that Santos has moved in, but there have been plenty of calls for the embattled politician to move on. Some protesters urged an investigation, while others called for Santos to step down immediately.
The throng, gathered by special interest groups Courage for America and Unrig Our Economy, chanted slogans and listened to addresses by community leaders and activists, including Assemblymember Ed Braunstein (D-Queens).
“When George Santos was elected, early on, I had every intention of trying to work with him,” Braunstein told the assembled rally. “I told him, we’re from different parties, but let’s work together for the common good of our constituents. But that was before we found out that he was a pathological liar. That was before he became a national laughingstock. Right now, there’s no way I can work with this guy.”
Santos, who represents a small fraction of Queens and parts of Long Island, has faced an onslaught of criticism after falsehoods he made on the campaign trail about his personal life and resume were unearthed by news outlets during recent weeks, even months.
Among the congressman’s unhappy constituents at the rally was Great Neck resident Jeff Blye, who says one of Santos’ false claims troubled him more than the rest.
“My parents are Holocaust survivors,” Blye said, “so his story about being Jewish, and then ‘Jew-dash-ish,’ is just totally and completely offensive to me beyond resume embellishment.”
The rally also drew attendees from beyond Santos’ district. According to Adrianne Davis, who lives in Suffolk County, the problem the new congressman poses is bigger than boundaries and maps.
“This is a national issue,” Davis said. “This is a national crisis. And that’s why I’m here.”
The backlash facing Santos has been set against a chaotic, drawn-out process among House Republicans to elect a speaker. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, seized victory in the early hours of Saturday after being elected to the speakership on the 15th round of voting.
Santos has said that he intends to serve his full term in Congress, despite mounting pressure for him to step down. Officially, there is little politicians or voters can do to prevent that, unless Democrats and a good number of Republicans work together to expel him.