The US House of Representatives has expelled Congressman George Santos, marking a significant moment in American political history. Santos’ tenure was marred by scandals, including lies about his Wall Street career, academic credentials, and Jewish ancestry. In May, he faced 23 criminal charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds. The House ethics committee released a damning report accusing Santos of exploiting his candidacy for personal financial profit. The House voted 311 to 114 in favor of expelling Santos, with 206 Democrats and 105 Republicans supporting the resolution. Santos’ expulsion was met with mixed reactions among lawmakers, with some expressing concerns about setting a precedent for removing a legislator without a criminal conviction. However, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has 10 days to call for a special election, and Democrats are poised to capitalize on the vacancy, potentially reshaping the political landscape.
The Troubled Tenure
George Santos, a 35-year-old Republican from Queens, New York, entered Congress in November 2022 amid a wave of controversy. His tenure was marred by a series of revelations, starting with reports from The New York Times that exposed lies about his Wall Street career, academic credentials, and claimed Jewish ancestry. As the months passed, more allegations surfaced, ranging from scamming Amish dog breeders to fabricating stories about his mother’s death in the 9/11 terror attacks.
In May, Santos faced a barrage of criminal charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds – 23 felonies in total. Despite vehemently denying the allegations and awaiting trial, Santos found himself increasingly isolated within Congress.
The Ethics Committee’s Final Blow
The decisive moment came when the House ethics committee released a damning report accusing Santos of exploiting “every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.” Among the shocking allegations were the misuse of campaign funds for Botox treatments, payment of credit card debt, expenditures on OnlyFans, and trips to the Hamptons. The committee’s findings prompted the expulsion vote, a rare occurrence in Congress.
The Expulsion Vote
The House of Representatives voted 311 to 114 in favor of expelling Santos, with 206 Democrats and 105 Republicans supporting the resolution. This marked the third attempt to remove Santos, with two previous votes failing to garner enough support. The rarity of expulsion votes underscores the severity of the allegations and the strong bipartisan consensus against Santos.
Reactions and Precedents
As news of Santos’ expulsion spread, reactions varied among lawmakers. Some, like Republican Jim Jordan, expressed concerns about setting a precedent for removing a legislator without a criminal conviction. However, a group of four New York Republicans, elected alongside Santos, had been advocating for his ouster, emphasizing the importance of holding members of Congress to a higher standard.
Constituents in Santos’ district welcomed the news, with one stating “good riddance.” Jody Kassfinkel, a campaigner for Santos’ removal, described the expulsion as “a win for democracy,” highlighting the lack of accountability displayed by the now-former congressman.
The Aftermath and What’s Next
Immediately following the expulsion vote, George Santos officially became a former member of Congress. His official website was taken down, staff phones redirected to generic voicemail, and his office nameplate removed. Despite losing the ability to vote on legislation and government health benefits, Santos can still avail himself of certain privileges afforded to former members of Congress.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul now has 10 days to call for a special election, expected to take place in February. With the Republican House majority reduced to just eight seats, Democrats are poised to capitalize on the vacancy, potentially reshaping the political landscape.
The expulsion of George Santos from Congress marks a rare and significant event in American political history. The controversies surrounding his tenure, coupled with criminal charges and ethical violations, led to a bipartisan decision to remove him from office. As the political fallout unfolds, the vacancy left by Santos offers an opportunity for a political shift, with implications for both the Republican Party and the broader landscape of the House of Representatives.