What’s Next for George Santos? Court Dates and, Maybe, Reality TV.

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By Ketrin Agustine

The New York Republican suggested that his future might include a memoir or a reality television show, not to mention the looming criminal trial in federal court.

The expulsion of George Santos from the House on Friday, after a year shaped by audacious lies and outright frauds, ended his 11-month congressional tenure. But as he stormed off Capitol Hill, Mr. Santos made abundantly clear that he had no intention of returning to obscurity.

Federal authorities and a jury of his peers may yet have something to say about that. Mr. Santos, a New York Republican, is scheduled to stand trial next year on a lengthy rap sheet that includes charges he defrauded donors, lied to election officials and stole unemployment benefits.

But in American politics, even convicted criminals are often given second acts — if not in elected office, then on reality TV or the big screen.

Here’s what might be next — and what will not be — for the disgraced and recently deposed former congressman.

Mr. Santos, walking out of federal court in October with his lawyer, still faces a 23-count federal indictment.Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Free from the daily demands of serving as a member of Congress, Mr. Santos will have time to focus on what could be his greatest challenge yet: remaining a free man.

The Republican faces 23 felony charges, ranging from identity theft to wire fraud, and up to 22 years in federal prison. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

A trial date has been set for September 2024 on Long Island if Mr. Santos does not reach a plea deal with prosecutors first. His next court date is Dec. 12.

The schemes laid out by prosecutors are wide ranging. Prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York say he falsified campaign reports with fake donations and fictional personal loans to artificially bolster his standing. They say he stole from donors, using their credit cards without authorization and through a Florida company called Redstone Strategies. And they have charged him with collecting more than $20,000 in unemployment payments when he was, in fact, employed.

Prosecutors say that Mr. Santos used the money on personal expenses, including designer goods and credit card payments. (House ethics investigators added more detail, showing that Mr. Santos used donor funds on Botox treatments, his rent and a website called OnlyFans known for adult content.)

What’s Next for George Santos? Court Dates and, Maybe, Reality TV.

George Santos Lost His Job. The Lies, Charges and Questions Remaining.

George Santos, who was expelled from Congress, has told so many stories they can be hard to keep straight. We cataloged them, including major questions about his personal finances and his campaign fund-raising and spending.

Financial records unearthed by investigators show that Mr. Santos’s $174,000 annual House salary was one of the most stable income streams he’d ever had. No longer.

After his expulsion, Mr. Santos will stop collecting congressional pay and medical benefits, which could add to his financial woes.

He will also lose access to a federal pension. According to Congress’s research arm, lawmakers have to accrue five years of federal service before they qualify for the annual retirement benefit.

Former members, even expelled ones, are afforded a lifetime privilege to walk on the secured floor of the House. On his way out of the building on Friday, Mr. Santos said he saw no reason to exercise it.

“Why would I want to stay here?” he said. “To hell with this place.

While the locks were quickly changed at Mr. Santos’s Capitol office, the signage at his district office in Queens still bore his name.Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

In the hours before his expulsion, Mr. Santos was repeatedly asked if he would run for elected office again: Mayor of New York City? Governor? What about his old House seat?

Technically, nothing bars expelled lawmakers from re-entering politics. But Mr. Santos said he had little appetite for now.

“I have no interest in running for mayor. Governor, even less,” he told reporters in his office on the eve of his expulsion. “I do not desire to be the executive of anything. I suck at running my house. That is why my husband runs it.”

Mr. Santos has likewise indicated he has no interest in running for his old seat. But if he ever tried to, he would almost certainly face stiff opposition from local Republicans who tightly control their party’s political apparatus and have come to detest him.

“I don’t like rides,” said Joseph Cairo, the powerful chairman of the Nassau County Republican Party. “I used to get sick when I was a kid on things that spun around. So I didn’t like George Santos.”

Though Mr. Santos initially chafed at the media attention, he increasingly appeared comfortable in the limelight, regardless of the circumstances that put him there.

Naysa Woomer, his former communications director who resigned in May, described him as “someone who was more interested in being a celebrity” than a lawmaker.

So it was perhaps unsurprising when he told reporters on Thursday that he would not rule out a path charted by other political figures: ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

“If I find the chutzpah to go on television and embarrass myself with my four left feet, maybe someday,” Mr. Santos said.

There is precedent for such a move. In 2009, the show cast Tom DeLay, a former House majority leader who stepped down in 2006 after he was indicted in a money-laundering scandal.

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas known for a debate gaffe, strutted his way onto screens in 2016. And Sean Spicer, a former White House press secretary for Donald J. Trump, was cast in 2019, a move that invited criticism from those who believed the show allowed him to rehabilitate his image.

Fox’s “The Masked Singer” has been similarly willing to help politicians looking to move from notoriety to celebrity. Last year, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer who was integral in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, made it through seven episodes before he was cut.

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, appeared on the show in 2020. She and her family also had their own reality show in 2010, and made cameos on “Saturday Night Live,” where she, like Mr. Santos, was a frequent target of parody.

In the meeting with reporters, Mr. Santos seemed eager to take control of his own story.

“I’ll definitely be writing a book,” he said, though it was not clear if he actually had a publishing contract.

Representative Anthony D’Esposito, a fellow New York Republican who reviles Mr. Santos, introduced a bill earlier this year aimed at foreclosing just that possibility. Called the “No Fame for Fraud Resolution,” the measure would bar any lawmaker convicted of a financial or campaign finance-related offense from making money off biographies, creative works or media appearances. Other New York Republicans signed on.

Mr. Santos called the bill a good idea at the time, but it stands little chance of ever becoming law.

On Thursday, he said that he had turned down several documentary filmmakers. But he did have casting guidance for anyone looking to make a biopic of his life.

“This is not something for somebody with a career,” he said. “This is a career-making movie.”


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