US politician expelled from Congress
Disgraced US lawmaker George Santos has been expelled from Congress in a vote by his House of Representatives colleagues, marking the first such ouster in decades and the only time a member was removed from office without being convicted of a crime or committing treason.
Santos, a New York Republican who took office last January after winning a seat that Democrats had controlled for the past decade, was expelled on Friday in a 311-114-2 vote by the House. More than 100 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for expulsion, which required a two-thirds majority. Two previous bids to remove Santos failed.
The push to oust Santos gained bipartisan momentum after the House Ethics Committee issued a report last month finding “substantial evidence” that the lawmaker misused campaign donations – suspect purchases included Botox treatments and an OnlyFans subscription – and told a “constant series of lies” to donors and voters. He also faces a federal criminal indictment on 23 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and other alleged violations.
The expulsion vote came one day after another New York Republican, Representative Marc Molinaro, argued that Santos was “divorced from reality.” Speaking on the House floor, Molinaro said, “He has manufactured his entire life to defraud the voters of his district and on his choice, for a member of Congress. He has lied to donors and colleagues, taking advantage of election law, using campaign funds to personally benefit himself. And he has defamed not only his office, but the institution itself.”
Santos becomes just the third House member to be expelled since the Civil War and the first since 2002. The other two were convicted of federal crimes before being removed from Congress. During the Civil War, three lawmakers were ousted for disloyalty after they decided to fight for the Confederacy.
Santos said after the release of last month’s damning ethics report that he would not seek re-election in 2024. However, he has steadfastly refused to resign, and he warned on Thursday that booting him from office before he goes to trial would set a dangerous political precedent.
“I will be No. 6 in history, the first Republican, and the only one without a conviction or without having committed treason,” Santos told reporters. “If the House wants to start different precedents and expel me, that is going to be the undoing of a lot of members of this body because this will haunt them in the future when mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from office when duly elected by the people in their respective states and districts.”
The expulsion will leave Santos’ seat in the House vacant until a special election is held for voters to choose his replacement. If a Democrat wins that race, the GOP’s eight-seat majority will be narrowed.