As if the saga of George Santos wasn’t bad enough for New York politics, along came Assembly Member Juan Ardila.
The freshman lawmaker was exposed last week in several published reports for sexually assaulting two women during a party at Fordham University in Manhattan nearly eight years ago.
After the reports came out, Ardila offered a public apology for his actions — but did not, as of Friday, March 17, step aside from the office he currently holds.
This despite the fact that a growing number of elected officials — from Governor Kathy Hochul to a host of progressive New York City lawmakers who backed Ardila’s campaign — have called upon Ardila to quit the seat.
In public service today, there is no forgive-and-forget when it comes to the accusations lodged against Ardila, and his admission of guilt. There is no moving on from this scandal; two women were sexually assaulted by an elected official, and regardless of his apology, Ardila is no longer fit to represent the people of his district.
Which makes his refusal to resign, up to this point, so disturbing. What’s he waiting for?
The same question could be asked of Congress Member George Santos, an exposed and admitted liar who faked it till he made it to Capitol Hill. The revelations that he fabricated so much of his back story while courting voters angered the electorate and even his own party, prompted a slew of investigations, and led to calls for his resignation.
Yet Santos has made clear he has no intention of going anywhere. In fact, recent Federal Elections Commission filings indicate that he’s set to launch a re-election bid in 2024.
There used to be a time when elected officials held themselves accountable, read the writing on the wall, and knew they had to quit. Ask Andrew Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner and Eric Schneiderman what we’re talking about.
Whatever happened to doing the right thing “for the good of the state” or “for the good of the people”?
What is the point of Ardila and Santos hanging on to offices they don’t deserve? Is it part of some cynical ploy to somehow avoid prosecution, or are they so lacking in shame that they don’t feel a solemn responsibility to answer to their constituents?
The French philosopher Joseph de Maistre once said, “Every nation gets the government they deserve.” The people of New York do not deserve predators or con men representing them in the halls of government.
We are a good and decent state. We are honest and law-abiding people.
And we deserve better than this.