Congress Santos

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside the Capitol on May 17. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is facing a new motion to expel him from Congress, one day after the House Ethics Committee released a scathing report that found “substantial evidence” Santos had knowingly violated ethics guidelines, House rules, and criminal laws.

Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., the chairman of the ethics committee, filed a motion Friday to expel Santos. The House can consider the motion after its return from its Thanksgiving holiday break on Nov. 28.

Santos, who declared after the report’s release that he would not run for reelection in 2024, continued railing against the ethics committee and his fellow lawmakers in a lengthy social media post Thursday night. He called his time in office “My year from Hell” and said he would give a news conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on the morning of Nov. 30 – conceivably when he could already have been expelled, if Guest’s motion is successful.

“Looking back today I know one thing, politics is indeed dirty, dirty from the very bottom up,” Santos wrote. “Consultants, operatives, the opposition, the party, and more … the one thing I never knew was that the process in Congress was dirty. I will continue to fight for what I believe in and I will never back down.”

The motion to expel Santos would require two-thirds of the House members to vote for it to pass. By filing the expulsion motion himself, Guest adds credibility to the resolution after lawmakers were hesitant about voting to expel Santos earlier this month when the question was brought forth by fellow New York Republicans. That effort failed, with 182 Republicans and 31 Democrats voting against it in fear that it would establish a precedent to oust lawmakers without receiving due process.

However, after the release of the House Ethics Committee report Thursday, several lawmakers who had voted against expelling Santos earlier this month publicly stated that they now would support a motion to kick him out of Congress. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., the ranking member of the Ethics Committee, previously voted present on the expulsion resolution – as all Ethics Committee members did — also said Thursday she would now be in support of expelling Santos.

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The motion to expel Santos earlier this month failed on a 179-213 vote, with 19 lawmakers voting present and 22 not voting at all. For Guest’s motion to pass, dozens of lawmakers who voted either no or present before – or who did not vote – will have to vote yes.

Raj Shah, spokesman for House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said in a statement Thursday that Johnson wants lawmakers to “consider the best interests of the institution” when and if action is taken based on the findings of the report.

“Speaker Johnson thanks Ethics Committee Chairman Guest for the thorough investigation which was released today,” the statement said. “The Speaker has reviewed the report and its very troubling findings. As members from both parties, members of the Ethics Committee and Representative Santos return to Congress after the Thanksgiving break, Speaker Johnson encourages all involved to consider the best interests of the institution as this matter is addressed further.”

If removed by the House, Santos would be the first lawmaker expelled without having been convicted of a crime. Under New York law, a vacancy of Santos’s seat would require Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul to call for a special election within 10 days of the vacancy and that special election would be held between 70 and 80 days after the governor’s call. The campaign for the seat in 2024 had already attracted several candidates on both sides of the aisle.

The Ethics Committee report Thursday on released detailed an array of alleged misconduct that included Santos stealing money from his campaign, deceiving donors about how contributions would be used, creating fictitious loans, and engaging in fraudulent business dealings. Santos, the report alleged, repeatedly used funds intended for his campaign for personal enrichment, including spa charges and paying down his credit card debt.

Some of the more egregious findings were centered on a consulting company called RedStone that was founded by Santos under the guise of being an outside group helping Santos’s election campaign. However, RedStone was not registered with the Federal Election Commission, and documents showed thousands of dollars from RedStone were transferred to one of Santos’s checking accounts. The funds were used, among other things, to pay down personal credit card bills, to make a $4,127.80 purchase at the luxury brand Hermes, and to make “smaller purchases” at OnlyFans, a subscription site that contains adult content, according to the report.

Investigators also zeroed in on several expenditures that were paid for with campaign funds that “could not be verified as having a campaign nexus,” the report stated. Those expenditures included $1,500 and $1,400 charges on Santos’s campaign debit card at different spas, both noted as “Botox” in expense spreadsheets.

 

Marianna Sotomayor and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

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