NATIONAL NEWS

Ethics chairman launches a new bid to expel George Santos after a withering report on his conduct

Nov 17, 2023, 8:02 AM

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., watches as Republicans try to elect Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., to...

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., watches as Republicans try to elect Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., to be the new House speaker, at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 25, 2023. The House Ethics panel says it has found “substantial evidence” of lawbreaking by Republican Rep. George Santos of New York and has referred its findings to the Justice Department. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Ethics Committee announced Friday he has filed a resolution to force a vote on expelling Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., from Congress, one day after the committee issued a withering report detailing substantial evidence that Santos converted campaign donations for his own personal use.

Santos easily survived an expulsion vote earlier this month as lawmakers in both parties stressed the need to allow due process, as Santos is also facing nearly two dozen charges in federal court. But the release of the committee’s findings has generated new momentum for ousting the scandal-plagued freshman. Shortly after the report was released, Santos announced he would not seek reelection.

“The evidence uncovered in the Ethics Committee’s Investigative Subcommittee investigation is more than sufficient to warrant punishment and the most appropriate punishment, is expulsion,” said Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss.

The Ethics Committee referred its findings to the Justice Department, serving up new evidence that could potentially play into the federal charges against Santos. Lawmakers opted to do their work without going through a lengthy formal process that would be used to make a recommendation to the House on the appropriate form of punishment.

Guest emphasized in his statement that he was filing the expulsion resolution separate from the committee process and was doing so in his personal capacity as a member of the House. Several other members of the Ethics panel have also come out in favor of expulsion now that the investigation is complete.

Expulsion from the House requires a two-thirds vote, a high bar. It’s the sternest form of punishment available to the House and has occurred just five times in the history of the chamber — three times during the Civil War for disloyalty to the union and twice after convictions on federal charges, most recently in 2002.

Santos assailed the committee’s report in a tweet on X as a “disgusting politicized smear.” He said he will have a press conference on the Capitol steps on Nov. 30. The vote on whether to expel him is likely to take place before then.

The Ethics panel appointed to investigate Santos met nine times over the course of its investigation, interviewed more than 40 witnesses and authorized 37 subpoenas. Among the most damaging of the allegations was that he used campaign donations to pay for stays in Atlantic City and the Hamptons and to pay for a Botox treatment at a local spa.

The panel also described Santos as uncooperative with their investigation, declining to voluntarily testify or provide a statement under oath.

The findings by the investigative panel may be the least of Santos’ worries. The congressman faces a 23-count federal indictment that alleges he stole the identities of campaign donors and then used their credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges. Federal prosecutors say Santos, who has pleaded not guilty, wired some of the money to his personal bank account and used the rest to pad his campaign coffers.

Santos, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, is also accused of falsely reporting to the Federal Election Commission that he had loaned his campaign $500,000 when he actually hadn’t given anything and had less than $8,000 in the bank. The fake loan was an attempt to convince Republican Party officials that he was a serious candidate, worth their financial support, the indictment says.

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Ethics chairman launches a new bid to expel George Santos after a withering report on his conduct