Updated May 17, 2023, 2:38pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Democrats are moving to expel George Santos. It’s only ever happened to 5 House members

Rep. George Santos
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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The News

U.S. House Democrats on Tuesday moved to force a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the freshman lawmaker who faces 13 federal charges including fraud and money laundering.

Santos likely remains safe for now given the House's Republican majority, but the move will push senior Republicans to decide how aggressively they will defend a colleague who has admitted to lying about major components of his resume like his educational and work experience.

Since the U.S. was founded, only a handful of federal lawmakers have faced the threat of expulsion or been removed from office by their colleagues. Most of them were convicted of serious crimes.

Here's a look at the House lawmakers who have been expelled and how Santos' case compares.

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Know More

Expelled for supporting the Confederacy

Three House members were expelled at the onset of the American Civil War in 1861 for supporting the Confederate rebellion:

  • John B. Clark (D-Mo.)
  • John W. Reid (D-Mo.)
  • Henry C. Burnett (D-Ky.)

Expelled for bribery

  • Mike Myers (D-Pa), 1980: Convicted of bribery during the Abscam scandal, an FBI sting operation that videotaped politicians and others taking bribes from federal agents pretending to be rich Arabs looking for favors.
  • James Traficant (D-Oh.), 2002: Convicted of bribery after using campaign funds for personal expenses. He was imprisoned after his expulsion, and launched his reelection campaign while incarcerated, receiving 15% of his district's vote in 2002.
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Now What?

The Democrats' vote initiative would require a two-thirds supermajority in the House. So far, only 12 House Republicans have called on Santos to resign.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday called on the House Ethics Committee to "move rapidly" with their investigation into Santos, saying he would ask the House to also refer the expulsion matter to the committee. That would give Republicans some time to sidestep the issue.

McCarthy, however, said his party could reinitiate the expulsion vote depending on the findings of the committee, CNN reported.

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Step Back

Santos pleaded not-guilty during his arraignment last week.

The indictment alleges that while Santos was paid an annual salary of $120,000 at a Florida-based investment firm in 2020, he applied for unemployment benefits in New York, receiving more that $24,000.

New York prosecutors also accuse Santos of soliciting donations for a company that he said would help his election to Congress, before using that money on personal purchases, including designer clothing.

In addition he has been charged with making false statements on the financial disclosure form that he filed with the House of Representatives before his election.


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