Indicted Republican lawmaker George Santos expelled from US House
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[December 02, 2023]
By Makini Brice and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Indicted Republican George Santos' brief career in
the U.S. House of Representatives came to an end on Friday, when fellow
lawmakers voted to expel him over criminal corruption charges and
accusations of misspending campaign money.
The House voted 311-114 to immediately remove the controversial freshman
lawmaker, above the two-thirds majority required to oust one of its own.
Besieged by revelations of lies about his past, a federal criminal
indictment and a congressional ethics probe, Santos, 35, became only the
sixth member to be expelled from the House. The New York congressman was
the first to be kicked out without having fought for the Confederacy or
being convicted of a crime.
Following the vote, there was scattered applause in the House chamber.
As Santos walked out of the Capitol, surrounded by journalists, he said,
"You know what? As unofficially already no longer a member of Congress,
I no longer have to answer a single question from you guys."
"To hell with this place," he said.
Later on Friday, a Capitol worker could be seen changing the lock for
Santos' former office and the sign on the door bearing his name was
taken down. A small bouquet of pink flowers had been placed on the floor
Santos' time in office lasted nearly 11 months - about halfway through
his two-year term. His removal continued months of controversy and chaos
in the House, which two months ago saw the firing of House Speaker Kevin
McCarthy through a revolt by a small band of hard-right fellow
New York state Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, now has 10 days to
call a special election for the seat. The election must take place 70 to
80 days from that proclamation.
House Speaker Mike Johnson and top Republican leaders opposed the
expulsion, but that did not sway enough in the party to go along. Some
lawmakers had argued that Santos' fate should be decided by voters in
his district next November or that his legal challenges should be
resolved before the House acted.
Some lawmakers had expressed concerns that booting Santos from office
could set a precedent for abusing lawmakers' power of expulsion.
His expulsion also reduces Republicans' already slim majority to a
221-213 majority. His district, which includes parts of New York City
and Long Island, is seen as competitive.
Santos has been mired in controversy since his November 2022 election.
He has admitted fabricating much of his biography, and federal
prosecutors accuse him of laundering campaign funds and defrauding
donors. Santos has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
He survived a previous expulsion attempt in early November, when 182 of
his fellow Republicans and 31 Democrats voted against removing him on
the grounds that his criminal case should be resolved first.
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U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) stands in an elevator, to
attend a series of votes including a vote to expel him from the
House of Representatives, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S.,
December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
But a subsequent, scathing House Ethics Committee report on Santos'
behavior eroded what support he had. Only 112 of 222 House
Republicans voted to keep him in office this time around. Two
Democrats voted against expulsion.
"George Santos' lies were designed to defraud and deceive the voters
in order for him to be elected, unlike other public corruption
cases," Representative Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat and former
federal prosecutor, told reporters shortly before the vote.
A bipartisan congressional investigation last month found that
Santos charged almost $4,000 for spa treatments, including Botox, to
his congressional campaign account. He also spent more than $4,000
of campaign money at luxury retailer Hermes and made "smaller
purchases" from OnlyFans, an online platform known for sexual
content, according to the Ethics Committee.
Following the Ethics Committee report, he said he would not run for
reelection next year.
The last expulsion was in 2002: Democrat James Traficant of Ohio in
2002, following his criminal corruption conviction.
Santos' troubles began shortly after his November 2022 election,
when media outlets reported he had not actually attended New York
University or worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, as he had
claimed during his campaign.
He also falsely claimed Jewish heritage and told voters his
grandparents had fled the Nazis during World War Two.
Reports of the falsehoods made Santos a pariah in the House and the
butt of late-night TV comedians even before federal prosecutors
charged him with an array of fraud and campaign-finance crimes.
In a 23-count indictment, they accuse him of inflating his
fundraising totals in order to draw more support from the Republican
Party, laundering funds to pay for personal expenses, and charging
donors' credits cards without permission.
Two former campaign aides have pleaded guilty to related fraud
Santos denies wrongdoing, and his trial is scheduled to begin on
Sept. 9, 2024, shortly before the November elections that will
determine control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.
Before Santos' win in 2022, the district was represented by Democrat
Tom Suozzi, who unsuccessfully ran for governor. Suozzi and 19 other
candidates, including eight Republicans, have filed to run for
(Reporting by Makini Brice and Richard Cowan; additional reporting
by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and
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