The United States House of Representatives Friday morning voted to expel New York’s 3rd Congressional District Representative George Santos, making him the sixth House member ever to be ousted from Congress.
A special election will be held to replace Santos and finish out his current term in the next 70 to 80 days.
The resolution to expel Santos, which needed at least 290 votes, passed with a tally of 311-114, with 105 Republicans voting in favor.
Top House Republican leaders, including newly-appointed Speaker Mike Johnson, voted to keep Santos in Congress.
Santos’ expulsion is the first since 2002 when Ohio Democrat Jim Traficant was convicted on federal corruption charges. Santos is also the first Congressman to be expelled since the Civil War without first being convicted of a felony.
Santos, 35, has been subject to much criticism for lying to voters about himself in turning the district red after winning the seat in 2022 that was left vacant by former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who did not seek re-election in pursuit of a failed gubernatorial run.
Santos was seen leaving the U.S. Capitol Building before Johnson finalized the vote amid a large gaggle of reporters. Santos did not stop to comment on the vote when heading to his car.
Friday’s vote was the third attempt in six months to expel Santos and the first since the bipartisan House Ethics Committee released its long-awaited 56-page report from investigators that found “substantial evidence” Santos violated federal law.
Investigators concluded that Santos used campaign funds for personal purposes, defrauded donors and filed false or incomplete campaign and financial disclosures.
Santos, who represents northern Nassau County and a portion of northeast Queens, sought to “fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” the report said, adding that his campaign was maintained “through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience.”
Investigators said they found Santos’ conduct to be “beneath the dignity of the office and to have brought severe discredit upon the House.”
Santos repeatedly denied any involvement himself in response to the campaign finance investigations, blaming his ex-treasurer Nancy Marks and saying she had “gone rogue.”
Marks, who previously worked for other Long Island Republicans, pleaded guilty in October to fraudulently reporting hundreds of thousands in fake loans that Santos claimed he raised during his campaign.
Investigators refuted Santos’ version of events, saying he was heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of his campaign and that witnesses told them Santos shared a close relationship with Marks.
Along with Marks, an ex-campaign aide to Santos, Samuel Miele, pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud and impersonating former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s former chief of staff Dan Meyer as part of a plea deal.
Santos pleaded not guilty to the 10 new charges against him including identity theft, credit card fraud and conspiracy in October. He also pleaded not guilty in May after being charged with 13 counts including wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.
The congressman’s trial date is set for September 2024.
With Santos now expelled, New York State law requires Gov. Kathy Hochul to issue a proclamation for a special election within 10 days of the seat becoming vacant.
Hochul said on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter, that she is “prepared to undertake the solemn responsibility” of filling the seat.
“The people of Long Island deserve nothing less,” Hochul said.
The special election would then occur 70 to 80 days following the proclamation, where members of the county party committees would nominate a candidate to run in the election to finish out Santos’ current term.
The Nassau County Republican Committee chairman is Joe Cairo and the County Democratic Committee chairman is Jay Jacobs.
In 2020, President Joe Biden won the district over then-President Donald Trump. In the years since, Republicans have done extremely well in local races, flipping the Nassau County executive and district attorney seats and the state Senate seat in the district while North Hempstead turned and stayed Republican in 2021 and 2023.
Republicans currently have control of both counties on Long Island and all three towns in Nassau.
The House Democratic super PAC shortly after the vote announced plans to spend big to flip the seat back from Republicans.
“House Majority PAC plans to play a significant role in the NY-03 special election, and we will do whatever it takes to flip this district blue,” House Majority PAC President Mike Smith said in a statement.
Democratic candidates include Tom Suozzi, who held the seat for six years before deciding not to run for re-election amid his gubernatorial campaign last year, and ex-state Sen. Anna Kaplan. Other Democrat candidates include Austin Cheng, Scott Livingston and Darius Radzius. Robert Zimmerman, the Democrat candidate for the seat in 2021, has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Candidates and officials across the North Shore lauded Santos’ expulsion.
Jacobs said he, Hochul, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, and Queens Democratic Chair Gregory Meeks will work expeditiously to nominate the best candidate possible.
“With today’s House vote to finally expel George Santos from its body, this ends a sorry chapter in the history of our county and our country. His loss is a huge win for decency, honesty, and the rule of law,” Jacobs said in a statement.
Suozzi said removing Santos is a “much-needed step in repairing a “broken system.”
“We must move beyond our petty, partisan, performative finger-pointing and address the real problems Americans face,” Suozzi said. “Let’s fix this!”
Kaplan said an embarrassing episode can be put behind us by electing a qualified candidate.
“For too long, a liar and a grifter has held this seat, and it is people who have suffered – Long Island deserves change,” Kaplan said.
Zimmerman said Friday was a day of reflection on how to move forward and that the Republicans who defended and protected Santos must be held accountable.
“It is incumbent upon all Democrats to unite in support of a candidate committed to restoring respect and decency for our Congressional District in the upcoming election,” Zimmerman said. “However, we need to ensure we are not rewarding those who perpetuated the divisive rhetoric that led us to where we are today.”
State Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington) said the 3rd Congressional District is finally ready to move on.
“We need to learn from this experience, make sure it doesn’t happen again, and get back to work for the residents who have been without representation for far too long,” Sillitt said.
State Assemblyman Charles Levine (D-North Shore) said Santos was a “pathetic chapter is American legislative history.”
“It has been grotesquely unfair for the people of the Third Congressional District to be represented by someone so morally and ethically bankrupt,” Lavine said. “I look forward to the near future when the national legislative interests of the people of northern Queens and Nassau County will once again be protected.”
Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a nonpartisan organization of residents from the 3rd Congressional District who advocate for the expulsion of Santos from the House, released a statement calling for a reckoning over how state officials allowed Santos to get elected in the first place, starting with GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik and Cairo.
“Today we rejoice at Santos’ ouster. We say ‘Good Riddance to George Santos! And, may he go to prison for his crimes against our community and our democracy,'” the group said.
Among the Republican candidates mentioned or announced are state Sen. Jack Martins, Nassau County Legislator Mazi Pilip, Afghanistan war veteran and former J.P. Morgan Vice President Kellen Curry, retired NYPD Det. Mike Sapraicone and Air Force veteran and personal injury lawyer Greg Hach. Other candidates include Queens small business owner Daniel Norber, Jim Toes, president & CEO of the Security Traders Association; and Thomas Charles Ludwig, a resident of Farmingdale and retired special forces officer.
U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Espositio (R-Island), who previously submitted a resolution to expel Santos, said the vote “has removed a stain from this institution.”
“I will continue to fight for Long Islanders in Congress and work diligently to ensure a true conservative succeeds Santos.”
Cairo also called Santos a stain on the House while saying the county committee and a representative from Queens will decide the Party’s candidate soon.
Santos first came under widespread scrutiny in December 2022 when The New York Times accused Santos, then the representative-elect, of falsifying much of his resume. Santos was said to have lied about earning degrees from NYU and Baruch College as well as working for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.
Santos later confirmed the falsehoods when he told the New York Post he “embellished parts of his resume when running for Congress.
Santos, in a previously published biography on his campaign website, described himself as “an associate asset manager” in Citigroup, but a company spokesman told The Times that they could not confirm his employment. The spokesman also said Citi sold off its asset management operations in 2005 and was unfamiliar with Santos’ job title listed on his biography.
The Times also obtained the two-page resume Sasntos submitted to the Nassau County Republican Committee in 2020 during his first campaign in which he claims he graduated in the top 1 percent with a 3.89 GPA at Baruch College, doubled revenue growth as a project manager at Goldman Sachs in an eight-month period and tripled sales growth within the first six months as a vice president at LinkBridge Investors.
Santos’ campaign website said the Republican’s grandparents “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium and again fled persecution during WWII.”
A review of genealogy reports done by The Forward, an independent, Jewish publication, showed that his grandparents, Paulo Horta Devolder and Rosalina Caruso Horta Devolder, were both born in Brazil prior to 1930 when the Nazi Party secured more than 100 seats in Germany’s parliament.
The report claims Santos’ mother, Fatima Aziza Caruso Horta Devolder was born to Paulo and Rosalina in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. His mother’s Facebook page does not contain references to Judaism but several pages she “liked” were for various Catholic groups.
Other posts she has shared on her Facebook page, which include pictures of her and the congressman-elect, include depictions of Jesus and quotes from the Bible. His mother died in 2016, according to an online obituary.
Santos, in a 2020 interview, said his family converted to Christianity while living in Brazil. Santos told the Post that he “never claimed to be Jewish” but that his “maternal family had a Jewish background,” which he meant as being “Jew-ish.”
The openly gay congressman-elect who previously said he “never had an issue” with his sexual identity during the past 10 years, divorced a woman weeks before he launched his first congressional campaign in 2019, according to the Daily Beast.
The report shows that Santos allegedly was married to Uadla Santos and divorced in September 2019.
Santos said he was married to a woman from 2012-2017 but told the Post he is now married and “very much gay,” saying the previous relationship “got a little toxic.”
The Times also reported that in 2008, when Santos was 19, he stole the checkbook of a man his mother was caring for, according to Brazilian court records. Police and court records showed that Santos used the checkbook to make fraudulent purchases, including a pair of shoes.
Two years later, Santos confessed to the crime and was later charged.