House Expels NY Rep. George Santos - Only the Sixth Expulsion in History
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PHOTO: Rep. George Santos, R-NY (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House voted on Friday to expel Republican Rep. George Santos of New York after a critical ethics report on his conduct that accused him of converting campaign donations for his own use. He was just the sixth member in the chamber's history to be ousted by colleagues.
The vote to expel was 311-114. Expulsion requires support from two-thirds of the House, a purposefully high bar, but a blistering House Ethics Committee report that accused Santos of breaking federal law proved decisive.
Santos fought the expulsion effort leading up to the vote, leading his own defense during House floor debate and in conducting a news conference and interviews.
“I will not stand by quietly,” Santos declared as lawmakers debated his removal the evening before the vote. “The people of the Third District of New York sent me here. If they want me out, you’re going to have to go silence those people and go take the hard vote.”
Of the previous expulsions in the House, three were for disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. The remaining two occurred after the lawmakers were convicted of crimes in federal court. Santos made his case for remaining in office by appealing directly to lawmakers who worry they are setting a new precedent that could make expulsions more common.
House Speaker Mike Johnson was among those who voiced concerns about removing Santos, though he has told members to vote their conscience. Others in leadership agreed with his reasoning and opposed expulsion. But some Republicans, including Santos' colleagues from New York, said voters will welcome lawmakers being held to a higher standard.
“I’m pretty confident the American people would applaud that. I’m pretty confident that the American people expect that, and I hope that tomorrow, in this great chamber, we set that precedent,” said Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, whose district adjoins Santos'.
Ethics Committee investigators spent eight months investigating Santos and interviewing witnesses. When their work was complete, the panel said it had amassed “overwhelming evidence” of lawbreaking by Santos that it sent to the Justice Department.
Among other things, the Ethics panel said that Santos knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission, used campaign funds for personal purposes and violated the Ethics in Government Act with his financial disclosure statements.
Arguing against expulsion during debate Thursday, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said that while he respects the Ethics Committee, he had concerns about how the Santos case was handled. He said he was troubled that a Republican-led committee would submit a report that was so judgmental and publicized.
“The totality of circumstance appears biased," Higgins said. "It stinks of politics and I'll oppose this action in every way.”
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