George Santos waves to reporters and protestors as he leaves the federal court in Central Islip on Oct. 27.
Michael Malaszczyk/Long Island Press
By George, Santos is gone.
The freshman Queens/Long Island Republican Congress member, who made national headlines when the New York Times revealed that he had fabricated most of his resume while running for election to the House of Representatives, was expelled from Congress Friday morning.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) announced the result at 11 a.m., with 311 members voting in favor — 206 Democrats and 104 Republicans. The expulsion vote required 290 members, or a two-thirds majority, to take effect.
“The clerk will notify the governor of State of New York of the action of the House,” a somber Johnson announced immediately after the vote. “Under clause 5D of Rule 20, the chair announces to the House that in light of the expulsion of the gentleman from New York, Mr. Santos, the whole number of the house is now 434.”
Santos is only the sixth individual in American history to be expelled, and the first in modern history without a criminal conviction at the time of his expulsion.
After soundly losing to former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) in the 2020 general election, Santos made another run for New York’s Third Congressional District seat in 2022. He caught a break when Suozzi opted not to run for re-election and instead challenged Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic primary, a bid he ultimately lost.
That left only Democrat Robert Zimmerman standing in Santos’ way of claiming the 3rd District seat. Santos defeated Zimmerman last November in a midterm election powered by strong turnout of Republicans on Long Island.
But then in December, The New York Times broke the story asserting that key details of Santos’s background he had used on the campaign trail — his education, employment history, ethnic background, connections to the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, and more – were all fiction.
Other claims, such as his mother being a 9/11 survivor, were also proven to be likely false in the ensuing months.
Despite admitting to making falsehoods on the campaign trail, Santos refused to resign from Congress — even as he lost the support of local Republicans.
That turned out to be the least of his problems. Santos faces two federal fraud indictments handed down in May and October alleging that he financially fleeced the voters who donated to his campaign and the national Republican Party, and that he submitted falsified financial records in order to gain campaign support.
Two previous efforts to expel the disgraced Santos failed. Earlier this month, Santos’ New York colleagues Reps. Mike Lawler, Anthony D’Esposito, and Nick LaLota introduced an expulsion vote, which was also unsuccessful.
Then, on Nov. 17, the House Ethics Committee released its full report on Santos, and found that he had likely committed numerous federal crimes largely relating to campaign finance and spending. Santos announced after the report that he would not seek re-election in 2024.
But that finally was enough to convince most Republicans who had previously been against Santos’ expulsion to change their minds when House Speaker Mike Johnson called the third expulsion vote Thursday.
Despite his ousting, Santos still faces up to 23 counts of federal fraud charges, with the indictments handed out in May and October. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Within 10 days of his vacancy, Hochul will be required to schedule a special election for the 3rd District seat. More than a dozen candidates have previously thrown their hats into the ring.
It has been over 20 years since a member of the House was expelled.
In 2002, Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) was expelled after his conviction on bribery and fraud charges. In 1980, Rep. Michael J. Myers (D-Pennsylvania) was expelled, also after conviction of bribery. In 1861, two representatives from Missouri and one from Kentucky were expelled for supporting the Confederacy.