On Friday, Nov. 17, the House Ethics Committee filed a resolution to expel freshman congressman George Santos from New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
The investigation cited multiple instances in which Rep. Santos used campaign donations and loans on personal expenses, and included 23 federal charges.
The first-year congressman is hardly new to scandal and has been embroiled in controversy since before he took office.
The campaign finance violations included numerous purchases at Sephora and Hermes. The report additionally found that Rep. Santos used campaign money to pay for Botox procedures and Only Fans subscriptions. Rep. Santos was also found to have participated in the early 2021 GameStop Stock short squeeze that resulted in an extreme rise of stock share prices in the company, and ultimately a crash when investors began to rapidly sell stock fearing price drops.
In order to make the extravagant purchases, Rep. Santos laundered the money using a multi-step process. First, the funds were transferred from campaign accounts to a secondary account. From the secondary account, funds were then transferred to a number of personal accounts.
The findings of the Ethics Committee do not officially expel Rep. Santos and only aim to provide the House members who are not on the committee with a full report of information on their investigation. The ruling in the resolution is then used as a guide in the following expulsion vote if the House chooses to seek one.
Two weeks prior to the release of the Committee’s report, a vote was brought to the floor to expel the congressman, though it failed. Many Republicans and a few Democrats voted against expulsion despite widespread speculation that Santos was guilty.
Fellow first-term congressman Jeff Jackson of North Carolina’s 14th Congressional District cited his background as an attorney for voting against expulsion. Jackson argued that it set a dangerous precedent to convict a person without due process. Despite the evidence against Santos, and the assumption that he was likely guilty Jackson refuted the appropriateness of a vote before the conclusion of the Ethics Committee’s investigation.
Many, including Jackson, theorized the reason the vote was held before the conclusion of the investigation was for fellow New York Republican congressmen to distance themselves from Rep. Santos. Maintaining their seats in New York, given its large democratic lean, is difficult enough without seeming to appear consorting with Rep. Santos given his charges.
The House is expected to hold the second vote on the question of expulsion before the end of the month.
Following the first expulsion vote, Rep. Santos told reporters that he would seek reelection regardless of the committee’s findings. However, he has since announced that he has reversed that decision and will not go forward with reelection.
If Rep. Santos is removed, he would be the sixth congressman ever removed from office, and the first to be convicted on criminal charges in the history of the House of Representatives. His removal would open a special election seat in a highly competitive district.