In a historic vote, the U.S. House of Representatives removed U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress by a vote of 311-114.
The expulsion was in response to a damning report from the House Ethics Committee which asserted that the sole gay Republican in Congress violated various ethical and campaign finance laws.
In total, 206 Democrats and 105 Republicans voted to expel Santos, with 112 Republicans and 2 Democrats — Bobby Scott (Va.) and Nikema Williams (Ga.) — voting against the resolution. Two additional Democrats, Jonathan Jackson (Ill.) and Al Green (Texas) voted “present.”
Notably, nearly half of the GOP caucus voted to expel Santos, despite members of the party’s leadership opposing the resolution, with Speaker Mike Johnson fretting aloud that expelling Santos prior to a criminal conviction would set a bad precedent.
Friday’s successful vote came after two failed attempts to oust the colorful New York congressman, with Republicans initially sidestepping a vote through a procedural maneuver in May and several lawmakers from both parties refusing to vote for expulsion when a floor vote was held in early November.
Many of those who abstained or voted against the November expressed concerns about removing Santos from office before the release of the Ethics Committee’s report or until he was convicted in a criminal trial.
According to the House Ethics Committee report, released earlier this month, Santos allegedly deceived donors into contributing to him under the guise of using the money to pay for campaign expenses. He later diverted that money into his personal bank account, using it to pay off credit card debt or to make various purchases, including spending the money on vacations, luxury clothing brands, Botox, spa treatments, personal food and transportation expenses, and porn subscriptions.
The report also alleges that Santos reported fictitious loans to political committees to encourage donors to continue contributing to him, and to convince Republican Party officials that he should qualify for special campaign funding.
Santos, who previously pledged not to run for re-election in 2024 following the release of the report, has been charged in federal court with 23 counts of credit card fraud, identity theft, wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making “materially false statements” to the U.S. House of Representatives on his financial disclosure statements.
Santos is accused of stealing donors’ identities and using their credit cards to ring up tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges, and falsely claiming that some of those financial transactions were donations made by family members or associates.
Santos has denied all charges against him and has claimed he is the victim of an ongoing smear campaign being carried out by Washington elites.
On Tuesday, Robert Garica (D-Calif.) and Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) co-introduced a privileged resolution to expel Santos, triggering an expedited timeline during which the House must take up the matter — either by holding a vote or using a procedural maneuver to sidestep a vote — within two business days.
Santos, who became the first gay Republican elected to Congress as a non-incumbent in 2022, came under scrutiny last December after The New York Times and other media outlets began reporting on several biographical fabrications the congressman reportedly told while on the campaign trail.
He later admitted to some of those fabrications, including his educational and work history, ancestry, and family background. He has since been accused of misrepresenting his charitable actions, and falsely claiming connections to large-scale tragic historical events, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 and the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.
Left-wing activists have been fervently calling for Santos’s expulsion since the first allegations of wrongdoing surfaced, according to The Hill. On Wednesday, MoveOn Political Action, a left-wing political advocacy group, commissioned a 15-foot-high balloon of Santos that depicts the glasses-wearing lawmaker with the words “Full of Lies” written on its red tie.
The balloon was intended to motivate or shame lawmakers into voting for Santos’s expulsion from the House.
Santos, who predicted he wouldn’t survive a third expulsion attempt, nonetheless was defiant, maintaining his innocence and deeming any effort to oust him as a form of “bullying.” In a post on the social media platform X, he recounted a conversation with House Speaker Mike Johnson about the resolution and the allegations contained in the Ethics Committee report.
“Setting the record straight, My conversation with the speaker was positive and I told him I’d be standing for the expulsion vote,” Santos wrote. “Expel me and set the precedent so we can see who the judge, jury and executioners in Congress are.”
Ahead of Friday’s vote, some Republicans questioned the idea of expelling one of their own members. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene came to Santos’s defense, firing what was perceived as a warning shot at any House Republicans thinking of expelling him.
Greene also raged that the House has not yet taken action on articles of impeachment she introduced against President Joe Biden, whom she’s accused of compromising national security by “refusing to enforce immigration laws and secure our border.”
“Let me get this straight,” Greene wrote in a post on X. “The Republican majority controlled Congress has ousted a Republican Speaker and is now on the verge of expelling a not yet convicted Republican member, but we can’t even impeach [Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro] Mayorkas” — whom Greene has also tried to impeach — “or Biden or stop the weaponized DOJ against Trump and all their political enemies?”
Let me get this straight.
The Republican majority controlled Congress has ousted a Republican Speaker and is now on the verge of expelling a not yet convicted Republican member, but we can’t even impeach Mayorkas or Biden or stop the weaponized DOJ against Trump and all their…
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) November 27, 2023
Greene, who has been chummy with Santos since he first arrived in Washington, has previously alleged that Democrats are only attacking Santos because “he is the first openly gay Republican elected and they hate him for it,” arguing that Santos deserves “grace” for “admitting and apologizing for lying about his résumé.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!