Following George Santos’ expulsion from Congress last Friday, his district office has been completely abandoned, leaving residents without a direct conduit to the federal government to address important issues such as immigration, veteran’s rights and a bevy of other issues.
The Founding Fathers famously declared that there can be “no taxation without representation,” yet the abandonment of Santos’ district office has left constituents with no official capacity to address numerous pressing issues.
Although Santos no longer holds his seat, a new problem has emerged. District resident attempting to reach out to his Douglaston office will find the doors locked, the lights off and no one home. In other words, even with him gone constituents lack their constitutional right to representation.
Throughout his tumultuous tenure in office, one consistent complaint of Santos was his lack of support for constituent services, despite the former congressman’s consistent claims that his constituents were his top priority. As a congressman, Santos’ duties included helping people and local organizations acquire grants, obtain visas, support veterans and even assist them in arranging visits to the White House or applying to United Stated Service Academies such as West Point.
Richard DeJesu, first vice commander of North Shore Veterans Memorial Post 21 in Oyster Bay, said that while the post has a policy to not get involved with politics, his and other posts in the district would continue working with county and state organizations to see that veterans’ needs are met.
“We don’t have any problems right now,” DeJesu said. “We’ll wait to see what happens and we’ll deal with it as it happens.”
Jody Kass Finkel, a Great Neck resident and the organizer of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a bipartisan non-profit organization dedicated to removing Santos from office, said that throughout the former congressman’s tenure she and many other district residents were unable to receive assistance and support services due to lack of trust in the fabulist and his inability to get things done. Now, with his office doors seemingly shuttered until his successor fills them following a special election — the date of which hasn’t been announced — she said that even this is better than having him in office.
“Having George Santos as our member of Congress was worse than nothing. We all feel this way,” she said. “Asking him for help with a federal agency was really difficult because you were afraid to give him any personal information for fear of being his next scam.”
According to the House of Representative’s bylaws, following the death, resignation or expulsion of a member of Congress, the House Clerk, currently Kevin McCumber, takes over the management of congressional duties, and has the authority to hire or fire new staff as necessary. While it has been less than a week since Santos’ expulsion, his office remains unstaffed, and McCumber’s office did not respond to questions regarding a timeline in filling the office by press time.
In the meantime, it is unclear what happened to Santos’ former staffers, and whether their services will be retained. Gabrielle Lipsky, Santos’ former communications director, stated in a text that she had left the former congressman’s employment two weeks ago, and did not know the status of any former staffers.
Constituents will have to get along as best they can until the office is staffed, which could be difficult, considering that any potential staffers would only be employed until Santos’ replacement is elected following the special election that will take place 70 to 80 days after his expulsion.
Chuck Lavine, a New York state assemblyman for part of Santos’ district, explained that he and other local politicians and neighboring members of Congress will continue to do their best to provide constituent services, which they have been doing since Santos’ litany of lies and alleged crimes were revealed.
“(Santos’) office was utterly undisciplined, and we would have been deluding ourselves to think that he was a positive influence or that he had any managerial skills whatsoever,” Lavine said. “My office, Senator (Chuck) Schumer’s and Senator (Kirsten) Gillibrand’s offices have been providing services to the people of the 3rd Congressional District, and we will continue to do that.”
Most residents of the district seem to view the short-term loss of Santos’ district office as a small price to pay to be rid of their former fallacious congressman. Roger Street Friedman, a resident of Sea Cliff, agreed that even having no congressman was better than having Santos.
“As a resident of the district I’m relieved that he’s no longer our representative because it felt completely fraudulent,” Friedman said. “Having no one there is better than having a complete charlatan, liar, fraud and criminal.”