The House of Representatives will try for the third time Friday to expel Rep. George Santos from Congress amid a slew of accusations against him, including alleged campaign finance abuses.
But some are concerned a successful expulsion of Santos could set an unnecessary precedent.
Santos, R-N.Y., survived the first two efforts to expel him from Congress, but the third time may be the charm for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who believe Santos is unfit to serve.
“We’re going to allow people to vote their conscience,” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said of the impending vote.
Support for ousting the freshman congressman has grown after an investigation by the House Ethics Committee found that Santos “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.”
The committee found Santos “used campaign funds for personal purposes” including spa days and purchases at luxury stores. The committee also found he “engaged in fraudulent conduct,” and “engaged in knowing and willful violations of the Ethics in Government Act as it relates to his Financial Disclosure (FD) Statements filed with the House.”
That includes $50,000 in campaign donations that were wired to Santos’ personal account on Oct. 21, 2022, and allegedly used to, among other things, “pay down personal credit card bills and other debt; make a $4,127.80 purchase at Hermes; and for smaller purchases at OnlyFans; Sephora; and for meals and for parking.”
Santos also made a number of false statements, and lied about where he went to school and his employment history.
Santos has denied wrongdoing and accused the committee of “bias,” but also announced upon the release of the report that he would not run for re-election.
Santos was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in October for allegedly filing fraudulent fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission to obtain financial support for his campaign, among other accusations.
Santos faces 23 federal charges: One count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud, in addition to the seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the United States House of Representatives.
Santos has pleaded not guilty.
Some Republicans have argued that Santos should have his day in court and enjoy due process before an expulsion vote occurs, which has been House precedent so far. Others believe that some of Santos’ alleged activity are “infractions against the House itself” and that he should be expelled.
“And so what we’ve said as the leadership team is we’re going to allow people to vote their conscience I think is the only appropriate thing we can do,” Johnson said this week. “We’ve not whipped the vote and we wouldn’t. I trust that people will make that decision thoughtfully and in good faith.”
He added, though, that he “personally” has “real reservations about doing this.”
“I’m concerned about a precedent that may be set,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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