House lawmakers from both parties moved Tuesday to force a vote on the expulsion of embattled Rep. George Santos (R-NY).
Earlier this month, House Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest (R-MS) introduced a resolution to expel Santos following a scathing report from a special legislative subcommittee on Santos’ behavior while running for office in 2022.
The a 56-page report details a “complex web of unlawful activity involving Representative Santos’ campaign, personal, and business finances. Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.”
“He blatantly stole from his campaign,” the report added.
For example, according to the subcommittee, Santos had a business that received $50,000 from donors that had been requested for political purposes, but the money was transferred to his personal account and spent on OnlyFans, Hermes, and Sephora.
Santos blasted the report, calling it “incomplete, irresponsible and littered with hyperbole and littered with biased opinions.”
But fellow New York Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, whose Congressional district borders that of Santos, offered Guest’s resolution on the House floor Tuesday, saying that the Ethics Chair “knows how important it is for us New Yorkers, especially us freshman, who ran in a state that’s been historically blue. We flipped seats that are important, that made this majority. And if we want to keep those seats, I think what we should do is rid ourselves of the stain that is George Santos.”
The Republican effort came hours after California Rep. Robert Garcia (D) moved to force an expulsion vote, calling it a necessary step in the event Republicans failed to act.
Santos on Tuesday night also took to the House floor to defend himself, saying his expulsion—absent a conviction in a court of law—would set a “dangerous precedent for the future.”
“This expulsion vote simply undermines and underscores the precedent that we’ve had in this chamber,” Santos said. “It starts and puts us in a new direction—a dangerous one.”
Out of the more than 11,000 Americans who have served in the House of Representatives, only five have been expelled by their colleagues. Three of those were ousted for conduct deemed disloyal to the country before or during the Civil War.
Since 1980, two Representatives have been expelled. Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers who was convicted as part of the FBI investigation “ABSCAM”—a sting operation that involved taking bribes from a fake Arab sheikh. And Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) was expelled after being convicted of bribery and racketeering.
“Are we to now assume that one is no longer innocent until proven guilty, and they are in fact guilty until proven innocent? Or are we now to simply assume that because somebody doesn’t like you, they get to throw you out of your job?” Santos posed on Tuesday.
Because the Ethics Chair’s resolution is privileged, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) must address it within two days. House members were scheduled to take up the measure on Thursday with a vote possibly later that day, following debate, or Friday.
Santos has survived two prior expulsion votes—before the Ethics report was released. Following its publication the freshman lawmaker—who had filed for reelection back in March—said that he won’t be running in 2024 after all.
And Santos’ troubles don’t end on Capitol Hill. He is facing a September 9, 2024 trial date for 23 separate felony counts, including wire fraud, identity theft, credit card theft, money laundering and falsely reporting to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he had loaned his campaign $500,000; in fact, he hadn’t given anything while maintaining less than $8,000 in the bank.
Santos has pleaded not guilty to all counts.