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NY congressman joins residents of Santos’ district to call for probe of his finances

(WASHINGTON) — Democratic congressman Ritchie Torres joined residents of Republican Rep. George Santos’s district in New York on Tuesday to call for a Federal Election Commission investigation of his campaign finances.

“I’m here to show support for the Concerned Citizens of NY-03, who have been systematically deceived and defrauded at the hands of their own congressman,” Torres said.

Torres announced he was sending a letter to the FEC asking the agency to look into what he called the “web of incestuous relationship” between Santos’s campaign, his business and the group Redstone Strategies — which, according to the New York Times, is an unregistered fund that helped raise money for Santos. The Times reported there are no records documenting the group’s donors or spending.

“The $700,000 question is where did all the money come from,” Torres said.

Santos has been the target of several FEC complaints from watchdog groups alleging he misused campaign funds for personal use, concealed the source of donations and failed to submit timely and accurate disclosure reports.

Among the questions raised is how Santos donated roughly $700,000 to his campaign when his reported salary in 2020 was $55,000. Santos declined to say exactly where the money came from during a podcast with his fellow GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, saying only that it came from “the equity of my hardworking self.”

“I’ve worked my entire life. I’ve lived an honest life,” he told Gaetz.

Torres, who represents New York’s 15th Congressional District in the Bronx, urged Santos to resign and end the “national nightmare” unfolding for himself and for his constituents.

The Concerned Citizens of NY-03 describes itself as an ad hoc, nonpartisan group of residents who want Santos out of office.

“We have an extremely narrow scope and that is to make sure that the imposter, George Santos, is removed from our House seat,” Jody Kass Finkel, the cofounder of the group, said during Tuesday’s press conference.

“He won by breaking the law. He’s a liar, he’s a cheater and he’s probably a criminal. We deserve real representation, not a charlatan. We want him gone,” she said.

Santos’ office did not immediately return a request for comment from ABC News.

Santos has been under fire for weeks after admitting to fabricating much of his resume, including his educational, employment and religious background. Santos has maintained he’s done nothing “unethical” or illegal, telling the New York Post earlier this month: “I am not a criminal here.”

Santos was adamant last week he would not resign amid calls for him to do so by New York Republicans and others.

But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachael Scott that voters decided Santos has a right to serve.

“If there is something that rises to the occasion that he did something wrong, then we’ll deal with that at that time,” McCarthy told Scott.

The House speaker told reporters Monday that he “always” had questions about Santos’s resume. Still, McCarthy had said he would get seated on House committees.

GOP sources said Tuesday that Santos will get a seat on two panels — the House Small Business Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Members of the Concerned Citizens of NY-03 criticized McCarthy’s hands-off approach when it comes to Santos.

“The people who voted for him didn’t actually vote for him, they voted for an illusion he created,” said Susan Naftol. “Hearing Speaker McCarthy say it was the will of the residents that voted for him, I say no. It was not the will of the voters because if the residents knew who he really was, they would have never voted for him.”

Finkel, the group’s cofounder, said McCarthy is “insulting the 700,000 residents of this district by not pushing him out.”

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