GOP Rep. George Santos of New York has become the third congressman in the last 50 years to be expelled from the chamber. Santos, who has faced allegations of lies, fraudulent activities, and bizarre behavior, witnessed his downfall primarily at the hands of fellow Republicans who found his conduct too egregious to tolerate.
Among the fabrications, Santos falsely claimed that his mother perished during the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and later awkwardly walked back comments that he was Jewish, adding to a litany of untruths. His expulsion also follows a sweeping 23-count superseding indictment by the Department of Justice (DOJ), charging him with conspiracy, wire fraud, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), falsifying records, aggravated identity theft, and access device fraud.
On Friday, members of Congress voted to expel him. The resolution required a two-thirds majority vote to succeed. House Speaker Mike Johnson announced that 311 members of the House voted to expel Santos. 114 members voted against the expulsion, and two members recorded themselves as “present.”
He is the first member of Congress to be expelled since the Civil War who was not convicted of a felony beforehand.
Expulsion is handled administratively in the same way as a vacancy, such as due to death or resignation, according to a former House parliamentarian.
The House clerk assumes control of the office and makes decisions on behalf of that office. Among other steps, they will determine the process for clearing out Santos’ office. His district office remains fully operational to address the needs of its constituents.
The chamber’s clerk will inform the governor of New York that there is now a vacancy in the third district of New York. It is then up to Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul to schedule a special election to replace him.
“We don’t know who he is at all. He’s a dedicated, committed con man in the halls of Congress and has access to government secrets to a lot of things that could be damaging to this country. He has to go,” remarked Republican Representative Brandon Williams.
Santos faced criticism from both sides of the aisle. GOP Representative Marc Molinaro stated, “George Santos is doing what every con man and 4-year-old does, which is to ignore the truth, take no responsibility, and point at others and suggest they are worse.”
The expulsion process faced initial uncertainty, with some questioning whether a vote would occur. Democratic Representative Jasmine Crockett criticized Santos and the GOP for engaging in what she described as a distracting “dueling expulsion” rather than addressing crucial issues like the migrant crisis or passing a budget.
House Ethics Chair Michael Guest (R-MS) denounced Santos for criticizing the Ethics Committee’s report that advocated for his expulsion, stating, “George Santos would have you believe that the process that he endorsed in May is fatally flawed and that he instead is the subject of a political witch hunt.”
In his defense, Santos argued that he had not been convicted of any crimes, emphasizing the lack of precedent for expulsion without a criminal conviction. House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed reservations about setting such a precedent.
However, the DOJ’s indictment revealed a complex scheme Santos allegedly executed during the election cycle. Prosecutors accused him of conspiring to obtain money for his campaign by submitting materially false reports to the FEC and inflating campaign fundraising numbers to qualify for financial and logistical support from a national party committee.
The scheme involved falsely reporting significant financial contributions from family members, never making loans, and misrepresenting financial stability. “Santos allegedly led multiple additional fraudulent criminal schemes, lying to the American public in the process,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith.
Added Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, “Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign. Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen.”
Santos, elected to Congress last November, was sworn in as the U.S. Representative for New York’s Third Congressional District on January 7, 2023.
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.