In a decisive move, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to expel indicted Representative George Santos, marking the end of a tumultuous term overshadowed by revelations of fabricated biographical details, a scathing House ethics investigation, and a 23-count federal indictment for crimes such as wire fraud and money laundering.
The vote, with a tally of 311-114 and two present votes, took place as Santos, donning his winter jacket, had already exited the chamber and hurried through the speaker’s lobby. “It’s over,” Santos remarked before departing for his vehicle outside the Capitol, expressing concern about a new and perilous precedent, highlighting his status as the first House member in modern history to be expelled prior to a federal conviction.
Santos, a Republican from New York, had weathered two prior expulsion attempts this year, but faced a shift in support following a damning 56-page report from the bipartisan House Ethics Committee just before Thanksgiving. The report outlined allegations of deceit towards donors, filing false campaign statements, and misusing campaign funds for personal indulgences such as rent, luxury goods, trips, cosmetic treatments, and an OnlyFans subscription.
Despite Speaker Mike Johnson’s initial stance of allowing members to “vote their conscience,” key Republican leaders, including Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, and GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, announced their opposition to expulsion just before the vote.
Santos, increasingly a political liability for fellow Republicans, faced expulsion spearheaded by New York representatives Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota, and Marc Molinaro. Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest, who authored the expulsion resolution, collaborated closely with the New York representatives to force the vote.
After the expulsion, D’Esposito commented, “A new precedent had to be set because someone lied and defrauded their way to the House of Representatives — it should have never happened.”
Santos, in defiance of calls to resign, asserted his innocence, maintaining his plea of not guilty to federal charges. The expulsion places him in rare company as the sixth individual in U.S. history to be expelled from the House of Representatives, with Santos arguing that it sets a dangerous precedent.
The Justice Department has charged Santos with multiple federal counts, including identity theft, theft of public funds, and money laundering related to campaign donations. His trial is scheduled for September.
Santos’ expulsion triggers a special election for the Long Island-based seat. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, must declare the special election within 10 days of the vacancy, with the election taking place 70 to 80 days thereafter. The race is expected to be fiercely contested, with candidates from both parties vying for the competitive seat. Santos had won the seat by 8 percentage points in November, defying expectations in a district Biden had carried in the 2020 election.