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Santos took office one month ago and his New York district says he's got to go

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., waits for the start of a session in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, D.C., Friday, Jan. 6.
Alex Brandon
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AP
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., waits for the start of a session in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, D.C., Friday, Jan. 6.

Judy Ornstein, a voter in New York's 3rd congressional district, stood outside the congressional office of George Santos in Queens, N.Y., this week and made clear she wasn't happy with her new representative.

She points to the name of the previous congressman, Democrat Tom Suozzi, still splashed across the building's awning.

"Well it sure doesn't look like Congressman Santos office because it still says Suozzi all over it," she says.

It's been three months since Santos won the election here. A full month has passed since he was sworn in. But many of his constituents on Long Island and in Queens say he's a no-show.

Santos lied about almost everything before taking office, inventing much of his life story, faking his professional credentials and allegedly lying about where he got hundreds of thousands of dollars to fuel his campaign.

Now Ornstein says Santos just isn't doing the job. He hasn't been seen in the district and reaching him has been impossible.

"I have tried twice to call his office about a matter that I actually need constituent service on; I have a tax question," she says.

Santos shows a stark contrast to the way lawmakers usually operate

This is a stark contrast to the way lawmakers usually operate.

For most House members, especially new ones like Santos, constituent services are a make-or-break priority.

"Deliver results, results that they can see, results that they can smell so to speak," says Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, a freshman Republican from the neighboring 4th Congressional District on Long Island.

D'Esposito says his office is now fielding calls from constituents in Santos' district "people that either can't reach [Santos] or don't want to, so we're happy to deal with that."

According to D'Esposito, he's hearing one message from people on Long Island: Santos has to go.

"Close to 80% of people polled think he should not be in office. It's been an absolute distraction at a time when we should be rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. Every opportunity that there is to do something good, he single-handedly takes the oxygen out of the room," D'Esposito says.

The poll D'Esposito references was released on Tuesday by the Siena College Research Institute. It found even Republican voters who elected Santos want him to resign.

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

He's become an increasingly toxic figure nationally for the GOP

"You know, we've rarely seen this dramatic a result within a specific congressional district," Siena spokesman Don Levy says. "There's really no meaningful support for Mr. Santos anywhere across his district whatsoever."

Santos argues that he was elected fairly and intends to get to work serving constituents. He's described his lies as "mistakes" and "embellishments."

"I want to put this past me so I can deliver for the American people," Santos said in December on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight.

But after a month on the job, including numerous appearances on conservative or far-right media outlets, there's no evidence voters are accepting his apologies.

With multiple investigationsnow underway into his business dealings and his personal finances, Santos may be more of a pariah than ever.

Under growing pressure, Santos announced this week he will step away from serving on two House committees, further limiting his effectiveness.

He's also become an increasingly toxic figure nationally for the GOP, but so far Republican leaders in Washington are sticking by him.

"The voters have elected him and he'll have a voice here in Congress," Speaker Of The House Kevin McCarthy told reporters this week.

Joanne Goldstein, a voter from Great Neck, N.Y. in Santos' district, says she hopes public pressure will grow until Santos is forced out.

"They should have him step down. He reflects very poorly on the Republican Party," Goldstein says. "I think he is someone who has no interest in serving the district. District 3 no longer has a representative."

JD Allen and Terry Sheridan at member station WSHU contributed to this report. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brian Mann is NPR's first national addiction correspondent. He also covers breaking news in the U.S. and around the world.
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