By Shlomie Katash
The House of Representatives voted to expel Republican Long Island Representative George Santos on Friday, Dec. 1, following an ethics report that accused the member of campaign finance abuse. Santos became the sixth House representative to ever be expelled, joining two federal convicts and three Confederates.
After months of investigation, the House Ethics Committee released a report on Nov. 14, alongside over 170,000 supporting materials, excoriating Santos’ character and conduct. The authors alleged that Santos “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” illegally spending campaign donations on private activities. The report also chastised Santos for his sustained lies to donors and supporters, as well as his unwillingness to participate in the investigation, which concluded that he “cannot be trusted.”
On Nov. 16, Santos announced that although he viewed the report as a “disgusting politicized smear,” he would not be seeking re-election in 2024. Despite that, he pleaded against his expulsion, wishing to complete his term and warning against the precedent the vote would set.
“If I am to get expelled tomorrow, I will […] be the first one without a conviction or without having committed treason,” Santos said. “So, if the House wants to start a different precedent and expel me, that is going to be the undoing of a lot of members of this body because this will haunt them in the future.”
Although Republican leadership opposed his expulsion, 105 Republicans joined nearly every Democrat in the affirmative, allowing the measure to easily satisfy the required two-thirds majority. Among the most prominent in opposition against Santos were fellow New York Republicans who have been distancing themselves from him ahead of their re-election campaigns next year.
“We can’t demand a better Congress and a more transparent Congress if we allow this to remain a tumor in our conference,” said Erie County Republican Nick Langworthy. “We have members who are in vulnerable seats from the New York delegation who hear about this from constituents or neighboring constituents. They’ve been victimized by this guy.”
Both parties will have a chance to reclaim the seat with an impending special election soon to be announced by Governor Kathy Hochul. The nominees will be chosen by the county’s party leaders and will likely face off in February.
Santos has been a controversial figure since his upset victory two years ago, as evidence quickly surfaced that he had flagrantly lied about several aspects of his past, per USA Today. Legal proceedings have been developing, as well, focusing on improper campaign finance maneuvers, including a 23-count indictment filed in October accusing him of stealing donor IDs to fraudulently wire himself funds for personal use, according to AP News.
Shortly following his expulsion, Santos hurried out of the chamber, avoiding the press and refusing to respond to any questions regarding the historic moment. “I no longer have to answer,” he said.