Rep. Santos keeps his seat in the House after vote, ethics committee report waiting in the wings

Rep. Santos keeps his seat in the House after vote, ethics committee report waiting in the wings
Rep. George Santos has survived a special resolution vote that could've expelled him from the House of Representatives. (Photo by Karina Kovac)

A Republican-led effort to expel Rep. George Santos failed Wednesday after New York lawmakers eager to distance themselves from their beleaguered colleague failed to gain the support of nearly enough of their colleagues.

With 213 opposed, 179 in favor and 19 representatives voting present, the Santos opponents failed to receive the two-thirds vote needed for expulsion.

For a second time now Rep. George Santos has managed to whether attempts at expelling him from the House of Representatives.

The Republicans, led by Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (NY-04), had argued that Santos’ admitted lies and 23-count indictment were sufficient grouds to expel him.

Santos argued that the vote undermined the rule of law.

“The loss of the presumption of innocence establishes a dangerous precedent that threatens the very foundation of our legal system, and we risk losing the trust that the American people placed in us by passing judgment without due process,” Santos said addressing the House before the vote, “If we work together, we can protect the integrity of our system and the rights of all citizens.”

“I’m fighting tooth and nail to clear my name in front of the entire world, Mr. Speaker. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m fighting by God’s grace,” he said.

Republicans argued his past lies about his personal history and his many legal litigations make him unfit for office. However, Santos, 35, maintains his innocence, pleading not guilty in court last week to 10 new charges included in his 23-count total superseding indictment.

He has been charged with various federal crimes, including conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, falsification of records, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud. 

The charges stem from allegations that Santos filed fraudulent fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission to obtain financial support for his campaign and repeatedly charged the credit cards of his donors without their authorization. 

Santos is also accused of falsely inflating his campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen, while in reality FEC filings show he’s in debt.

After looking into how each member voted, its revealed that 24 Republicans broke with their party and voted to expel Santos and 31 Democrats voted against expelling him.

However, the House Ethics Committee investigating Santos’ past dealings said they would have news by Nov. 17, meaning his days in Congress may still be numbered.

After the vote, Santos said he feels like, “due process is still alive. I feel like there’s enough colleagues on both sides of the aisle here who understand that.”

Congress has rarely used its most severe disciplinary action of expulsion. Throughout history, the House has only used the measure on five members. Three occurred during the Civil War, while two followed convictions on public corruption charges. The last time was in 2002 when James Traficant, a Democrat from Ohio, was removed after being convicted of 10 felony counts of racketeering, bribery and fraud.

The House’s decision to potentially remove Santos from office before the resolution of his federal court case would’ve set a significant precedent.

Democrats tried to force the House to consider an expulsion resolution back in May, when the first set of charges came down against Santos. Republicans said they wanted to avoided that vote, instead referring the matter to the House Ethics Committee, who issues a memo a day before the vote saying they have, “contacted 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents and authorized 37 subpoenas.”

Constituents throughout the district have called on Santos to resign and on members of the House to bring the resolution to expel Santos back to the floor for a straight up-or-down vote before the end of the month.

“Congress proved again tonight that under current leadership, they are incapable of standing for what’s right, and fighting for what every American is entitled to – representation,” wrote constituent Allison O’Brien Silva of Manhasset. “The people of NY-03 have been treading water with a fake congressman for almost a year. Congress had the chance to step in on our behalf, and they failed us tonight. No wonder so many in NY-03 and across the country are disillusioned with our government.”

Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said he believes Santos should get his day in court, telling Fox News in an interview that if Congress is going to expel members because they are charged with a crime or accused of wrongdoing, “that’s a problem.”

“This was such an obvious play by the five Republicans in competitive NY districts so they can tell their constituents they did all they could with Santos,” wrote constituent Sally Marzouk of Great Neck, “In the meantime, they vote for new speaker MAGA Mike Johnson. Don’t insult us here in NY-we can see what’s going on and will not be duped again!” 

A report by The New York Times last December uncovered discrepancies in Santos’ professional and educational background during his candidacy. These inconsistencies included false claims of graduating from Baruch College and New York University, as well as employment history at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Once under a microscope, more media investigations unearthed various issues surrounding Santos, including questionable campaign and personal finances, historical debts, legal entanglements, and a series of fraudulent activities and fictitious assertions.

In May, Santos faced indictment on 13 counts, which encompassed allegations of wire fraud and money laundering. In October, a superseding indictment added 10 more charges, such as credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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