Republican Rep. George Santos (NY) was already having a terrible year, optically speaking, and as of this week, his problems became several magnitudes of order worse.
According to Reuters, the embattled GOP lawmaker has been federally charged with several crimes, including money laundering, fraud, and theft of public funds.
Santos has strongly resisted intense calls for his resignation over several falsehoods on his political resume.
A 13-count indictment charged Santos, 34, with defrauding prospective political supporters by laundering funds to pay for his personal expenses and illegally receiving unemployment benefits while he was employed.
It also accuses him of making false statements to the House of Representatives about his assets, income and liabilities.
Republican House leaders have stated that they will not take action against Santos until legal proceedings, however they land, dictate any actions.
U.S House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was careful to keep a distance from supporting a possible Santos reelection bid, saying, "Santos has a lot going on. I think he has other things to focus on in his life other than running for re-election."
For his part, Santos has largely written off the scandal, saying this week of the charges he faces that it's nothing more than a political "witch hunt."
"It's a witch hunt," Santos said after a court appearance this week.
He added: "I'm going to fight my battle. I'm going to deliver. I'm going to fight the witch hunt. I am going to take care of clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that."
Many conservatives across social media backed the witch hunt theory. Some pointed out that many of the charges against him were over exaggerated or completely out of proportion.
"Republican George Santos’ indictment includes criminal charges for two, $564 unemployment payments. I had to zoom in to make sure I was reading it correctly and that it wasn’t missing zeros. $564!" Cernovich tweeted.
Republican George Santos’ indictment includes criminal charges for two, $564 unemployment payments.
I had to zoom in to make sure I was reading it correctly and that it wasn’t missing zeros.
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) May 10, 2023
Santos was released on a $500,000 bond and is due back in court for his next appearance on June 30. This means he can go back to Washington and cast votes in Congress. As a condition of his release, he agreed to surrender his passport and to limit his travel.
Only time will tell if Santos makes it out alive, politically speaking, but if any of the charges stick, he might need to start looking for a new career path.