On Sunday morning, Nick LaLota packed up his car and set out on the four-and-a-half hour trip to Washington, D.C. On Tuesday morning, everything about his life was to change when he took the oath and was sworn in as the newly elected Republican congressman from the 1st District, which encompasses all of the East End, Brookhaven, and parts of Smithtown. The swearing in was delayed when the GOP majority in the House failed to select a new speaker.
An early priority will be to find an apartment to live in.
“It will be hotels for now,” he said in an interview Monday afternoon. “I will figure out a simple apartment situation going forward. Some members sleep in their offices, but I think that presents an HR challenge when the boss is waking up where employees are working.”
Mr. LaLota was elected in November, winning the district that had been held by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Mastic) since 2015. Mr. Zeldin left the safety of the district to run for governor of New York. He lost to incumbent Kathy Hochul, who was sworn in Monday.
Mr. LaLota is a former Suffolk County Board of Elections commissioner and a former trustee of the village of Amityville. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2000 and served in the U.S. Navy for eight years.
Last week, Mr. LaLota was the first incoming or incumbent Republican to speak out against fellow Republican George Santos, who was elected to the 3rd Congressional District in western Nassau County and Queens. Stories in the North Shore Leader newspapers, followed by The New York Times, have exposed Mr. Santos as having lied about his work and family history, education and a laundry list of other items since proven to be false.
An editorial this week in the North Shore Leader called Mr. Santos a “fraud and a wanted criminal.”
In an interview last week with a television network, Mr. Santos dismissed what he did as “resume embellishment” and nothing more serious than that. On Tuesday, along with other newly elected officials, he too was expected to be sworn into office.
Asked about his comments on Mr. Santos, Mr. LaLota said he was glad he spoke out.
“I am very confident I was the first to call for a House ethics investigation and a law enforcement one if necessary,” he said. “I am pleased to see other Republicans have followed suit, and the Nassau County district attorney has opened an investigation.
“His conduct falls so far below the minimum standard of conduct,” he added.
Asked if his comments might cause him problems with the incoming GOP majority in the House, Mr. LaLota said, “This matter is not Democrat or Republican. There needs to be accountability there. There needs to be trust and confidence in elected officials. We can disagree on policies. But that is why I called for an investigation.”