On December 1, 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 311-114 to expel Rep. George Santos from its ranks.
Santos was elected to represent New York’s 3rd congressional district in November 2022. Following the election, the media belatedly uncovered the fact that Santos had lied about his family background, his religion, his education, his past employment, his volunteerism, and his criminal history in an effort to win election. Santos’s many misrepresentations about himself made him a national laughingstock. Furthermore, Santos has been charged with 23 felonies arising out of campaign finance irregularities; the charges include allegations of identity theft and wire fraud. He faces a federal criminal trial, and he has pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Last month, a report from the House Ethics Committee indicated that there was “substantial evidence” that Santos “knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes; engaged in fraudulent conduct in connection with RedStone Strategies LLC; and engaged in knowing and willful violations of the Ethics in Government Act as it relates to his Financial Disclosure (FD) Statements filed with the House.” In essence, the Committee found that Santos had “blatantly stolen” from his own campaign.
Santos bears the disgraceful distinction of being the sixth person in the history of the United States to be expelled from the House of Representatives. Following the House vote, he was immediately stripped of his congressional title and responsibilities, leaving the 3rd congressional district without representation. Gov. Kathy Hochul has set February 13, 2024 as the date for a special election to fill this vacancy. Former Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate-leaning Democrat who represented the 3rd congressional district from 2017 to 2023, has been nominated to seek his old seat; Rep. Suozzi did not seek re-election in 2022, but instead ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor of New York. As of December 7, the Republicans’ special election candidate remains unknown.
As a general matter, when a member of Congress has been charged with a crime, the House of Representatives should wait for the judicial system to do its work before voting to remove that member. In the United States, defendants—including elected officials—are entitled to their day in court. However, the depth and gravity of Santos’s misrepresentations and the devastating evidence uncovered by the House Ethics Committee make this a unique situation. Whether or not Santos is found guilty of federal crimes, the nation knows beyond all doubt that he is a serial liar and an imposter who conned his way into Congress. His removal from the House was justified, as he is manifestly unfit for public office. Everyone, regardless of occupation, must be held accountable for his actions.