Governor Kathy Hochul faced criticism from state lawmakers for incorrectly stating her role in filling the vacant House seat of former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. Santos was removed from office on Friday amid various federal charges, including fraud and misuse of campaign funds, triggering the need for a special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
Hochul initially claimed the responsibility of filling the vacancy in a statement on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, stating, “I am prepared to undertake the solemn responsibility of filling the vacancy in New York’s 3rd District.”
However, under federal law, the governor’s responsibility in such circumstances is limited to issuing a proclamation for a special election within 10 days of the vacancy. The election itself must be scheduled to occur between 60 to 70 days from the date of the proclamation. Hochul later clarified her role in a subsequent post, noting that she would announce the date of the special election as mandated by law. This clarification came amidst Republican criticism that accused her of overstepping her authority. Representatives Mike Lawler and Anthony D’Esposito, both Republicans from Long Island, emphasized that Hochul’s role was to call for a special election, not to appoint a replacement.
The upcoming special election is viewed as crucial for New York Republicans, following significant gains in the state during last year’s midterm elections. Both Lawler and D’Esposito have been vocal opponents of Santos, with D’Esposito having introduced a resolution for his expulsion and Lawler advocating for his resignation earlier in the year. In response to the controversy, Hochul’s spokesperson referred inquiries to an updated statement on the governor’s website, which correctly outlines her duty to schedule a special election. The corrected statement was posted over an hour after the original message on X.
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