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Updated Dec 1, 2023, 12:57pm EST
politicsNorth America

George Santos has been expelled from the House

George Santos
REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
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The News

George Santos, the embattled New York Republican who is accused of largely fabricating his resume and engaging in illegal campaign finance activity, has been expelled from the House following a damning ethics probe.

House members voted 314 to 114 to boot Santos, with two Democrats voting “present.” He becomes only the sixth lawmaker to be expelled from the House of Representatives since the U.S. was founded. Three of those were booted for supporting the Confederate rebellion at the onset of the Civil War, and two others were removed for allegations of bribery.

The Ethics Committee’s investigation revealed extensive misuse of campaign funds, with Santos allegedly spending donor contributions on things like botox procedures and an OnlyFans subscription.

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The panel’s report was released after Santos was separately indicted on new federal charges in October — including conspiracy, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts, while his former campaign treasurer pleaded guilty and admitted to much of the conduct.

Prosecutors allege that Santos inflated his 2022 campaign’s fundraising numbers in an effort to qualify his campaign for financial support from Republican Party leaders.

The 35-year-old congressman previously told Semafor he would not seek re-election in 2024.

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Know More

Santos was thrust into the national spotlight after a New York Times investigation found that he had allegedly made repeated false claims about his personal, professional, and financial background.

Republicans initially resisted calls to force Santos out, but the tide against the congressman began turning as more details emerged about years of deception and other potential fraud cases. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that his Republican colleagues should wait for the ethics probe before discussing expulsion. However, Santos survived an expulsion vote earlier this month that was pushed by New York Republicans, after most Republicans and 31 Democrats decided to withhold punishment until after the House investigation concluded.

As lawmakers debated Santos’ expulsion on Thursday, some of his Republican colleagues chose not to mince their words. Ohio Rep. Mike Miller called Santos a “crook.” But some defended him saying the allegations against Santos were not as serious as those against Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who faces federal corruption charges.

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“Whatever Mr. Santos did with Botox or Only Fans is far less concerning to me than the indictment against Sen. Menendez, who was holding gold bars inscribed with Arabic on them,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

While Republicans framed the resolution as a vote of conscience, House Speaker Mike Johnson notably voted against expulsion, saying he had “real reservations” as Santos had not yet been convicted of a crime.

Other staunch conservatives also voted against the resolution, like Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan who said the issue is “between him and the voters.”

Rep. John Duarte, R-Ca., told Semafor that he personally liked Santos because “you can’t be around Santos and not be having fun,” but he ultimately voted in favor of expulsion because the findings were “so overwhelming.”

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Now What?

Multiple candidates – both Republican and Democrat – are vying for Santos’ seat, considered crucial for Democrats to regain control of the House next year.

Republicans expect a tough race in the moderate district that Joe Biden won by 10 points in 2020, but the recent migrant crisis in New York could weigh on Democrats’ chances.

Mike Smith, president of the Democrat-aligned House Majority Political Action Committee, said they would play a “significant role” in the upcoming special election to flip the seat blue, adding that the district’s voters would now “have the opportunity to elect a representative who will serve with integrity and prioritize their communities.”

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