The House of Representatives voted Friday to expel Republican Rep. George Santos of New York following a critical ethics report into his conduct that accused him of converting campaign donations for his own use. He was only the sixth member in House history to be ousted by his colleagues.
The vote in favor of expulsion was 311-114. Expulsion requires the support of two-thirds of the House, a deliberately high bar, but a damning report from the House Ethics Committee that accused Santos of violating federal law proved decisive.
Santos fought the ouster effort leading up to the vote, leading his own defense during the House debate and holding a news conference and interviews.
“I will not sit still,” Santos declared as lawmakers debated his impeachment the night before the vote. “The people of New York’s Third District sent me here. If they want me to leave, they’re going to have to silence those people and vote hard.”
Of the previous expulsions in the House, three were for disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. The remaining two occurred after lawmakers were convicted of crimes in federal court. Santos defended his stance in favor of staying in office by appealing directly to lawmakers who fear they are setting a new precedent that could make expulsions more common.
House Speaker Mike Johnson was among those who expressed concern about Santos’ impeachment, although he has told members to vote their conscience. Other leaders agreed with his reasoning and opposed the expulsion. But some Republicans, including Santos’ colleagues from New York, said voters will appreciate holding lawmakers to higher standards.
“I’m pretty sure the American people will applaud that. I’m pretty sure the American people expect that, and I hope that tomorrow, in this great chamber, we’ll set that precedent,” said Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito. , whose district borders that of Santos.
Santos warned lawmakers that they would regret removing a member before they had had their day in court.
“This will haunt them in the future, when mere accusations are enough for members to be removed from their positions when they are duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts,” Santos said.
The expulsion effort is just the latest chapter in what has been a spectacular fall from grace for Santos, a first-term lawmaker initially celebrated as an up-and-comer after he wrested a district from Democrats last year and helped Republicans win. gain control of the district. Home. But soon after, problems began. Reports began to emerge that Santos had lied about having Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms, and a college degree. His presence in the House quickly became a distraction and an embarrassment to the party.
In early March, the House Ethics Committee announced it was launching an investigation into Santos. Then in May, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York indicted Santos, accusing him of misleading donors, stealing from his campaign and lying to Congress. Prosecutors would later add more charges in an updated 23-count indictment.
The indictment alleges that he stole the identities of campaign donors and then used their credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges. Federal prosecutors say Santos, who has pleaded not guilty, transferred some of the money to his personal bank account and used the rest to fill his campaign coffers.
Meanwhile, Ethics Committee investigators spent eight months investigating Santos and interviewing witnesses. When its work was complete, the panel said it had amassed “overwhelming evidence” of violations of the law by Santos that it forwarded to the Justice Department.
Among other things, the Ethics panel said Santos knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission, used campaign funds for personal purposes and violated the Ethics in Government Act with his financial disclosure statements.
In arguing against expulsion during Thursday’s debate, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said that while he respects the Ethics Committee, he is concerned about how the Santos case was handled. He said he was concerned that a Republican-led committee would submit a report.
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