George Santos Expelled From Congress

George Santos


George Santos has, finally, been kicked out of the House of Representatives.

The New York congressman — who repeatedly refused to resign in the face of his many scandals, including a federal criminal indictment — announced earlier this month that he will no longer seek re-election in 2024 following the release last month of a damning House Ethics Committee report that found “substantial evidence” he had committed crimes. 

The final vote to expel Santos was 311-114. Two-thirds of the House needed to vote in favor of the resolution for it to pass.

Santos was immediately relieved of his position as a member of Congress, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul is required to initiate procedures to hold a special election in the state’s third congressional district in the coming days.  Santos is the sixth House Representative in the history of the chamber to be stripped of his office, and the first since Ohio Democrat James Traficant was ousted from Congress in 2002 following a conviction on federal corruption charges. 

Pressure had been intensifying for weeks to remove Santos from Congress, with some Republicans leveling a last-minute push to secure his resignation and avoid a floor vote on his future. Santos told reporters on Tuesday that it was time for his colleagues to “put up or shut up.” 

“They want me to resign because they don’t want to take this tough vote that sets the precedent to their own demise in the future because they’re not immune to all the nonsense that goes on in Washington,” Santos added. 

Santos held a press conference on Thursday during which he referred to the efforts to oust him as “bullying” and reaffirmed his refusal to voluntarily step down from office. Santos blasted the Ethics Committee, accusing them of “putting out a slanderous report” against him. Later that afternoon, Santos addressed the impending vote in a speech on the House floor. “Every member expelled in [the] history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or Confederate turncoats, guilty of treason,” he argued. “Neither of those apply to me, but here we are.”

This was the House’s third attempt at removing Santos since the Ethics Committee first announced their investigation in March. The initial probe by the committee was spurred by an avalanche of reports regarding the many lies Santos had told the public about himself and his financial history. Santos made exaggerated claims and shared outright lies about virtually every aspect of his background, including his education, religion, the death of his mother, his campaign funding, and his history of employment. 

During the course of the House’s investigation, Santos was indicted and arrested in May on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and lying to Congress. Democrats subsequently moved to expel him from the chamber. The proposed resolution was punted by Republicans, who argued it was best to wait until the committee had released its final conclusions. In November, a second failed attempt to remove Santos was brought forth by New York Republicans after additional charges, including identity theft and credit card fraud, were brought against the congressman. 

The [two] failed efforts to remove Santos speak to how House Republicans are willing to overlook clear ethics violations to preserve the razor-thin majority they have in the House, and Democrats have noticed. “Do you think for a minute if Republicans had a 25-seat majority, they would care about George Santos’ vote?” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday. “They needed him to vote for Speaker McCarthy. They needed him to vote for Speaker Johnson. That’s the only reason why he’s still a member of Congress.” 

The Ethics Committee declined to recommend specific consequences against Santos along with its report, but Chairman Michael Guest (R-Miss.) personally submitted the resolution for his expulsion. Guest wrote in a statement on Nov. 17 that “the evidence uncovered in the Ethics Committee’s Investigative Subcommittee investigation is more than sufficient to warrant punishment and the most appropriate punishment is expulsion.”

The bipartisan committee found “substantial evidence of potential violations of federal criminal law” by the Republican congressman, concluding that Santos “knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes; engaged in fraudulent conduct in connection with RedStone Strategies LLC; and engaged in knowing and willful violations of the Ethics in Government Act as it relates to his Financial Disclosure (FD) Statements filed with the House.” 

The committee also found that Santos had used campaign funds at Hermès, OnlyFans, and Sephora, as well as for meals, parking, Botox, a luxury vacation in the Hamptons, honeymoon expenses, spa treatments, and to pay off his credit card bills. 

In the days leading up to Friday’s vote, Republican leadership continued to duck a commitment to leveling consequences against Santos. On Tuesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) stated in a press conference that he had “real reservations” about expelling Santos, and confirmed that he would oppose the resolution on Friday morning. Johnson claimed that many in his party felt it was important for the criminal charges against Santos to be resolved and the “rule of law” upheld before the penalty of expulsion is exacted against the New York congressman. 

By contrast, Republican Congressman Max Miller (R-Ohio) sent an email to House Republicans on Friday revealing that he personally had been affected by Santos’ misconduct. “The Santos campaign had charged my personal credit card – and the personal card of my Mother – for contribution amounts that exceeded FEC limits,” Miller wrote, I’ve seen a list of roughly 400 other people to whom the Santos campaign allegedly did this. I believe some other members of this conference might have had the same experience.” 

Miller added that while he understands “the position of those who will vote against the expulsion resolution, my personal experience related to the allegations and findings of the Ethics Committee compels me to vote for the resolution.” 

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On Monday, Santos wrote on X that he had had a “positive” conversation with Speaker Johnson and dared his colleagues to “Expel me and set the precedent so we can see who the judge, jury, and executioners in Congress are. The American people deserve to know!”

Santos is now out of a job. When asked on Wednesday if he would do it all over again, Santos responded that it’s been “one year from hell but I would do a few things differently.”





Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/george-santos-expelled-congress-1234905936/

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