Correspondent in Washington
George Santos, elected Republican from the state of New York and proven mythomaniac, was expelled from the House of Representatives after a two-thirds vote by parliamentarians on Friday morning. His expulsion was passed by 311 votes to 114, after a scathing report from the House Ethics Committee, accusing Santos of having violated federal law by using donations collected for his campaign for his personal use. He becomes the sixth House member to be ousted by his colleagues in American political history, and the first since the Civil War.
His office is expected to be emptied, and the governor of New York will have to schedule a special election to replace him. Santos contested his expulsion until the vote, defending himself during the debates in the House and multiplying press conferences and interviews. “The Representatives have just created a dangerous precedent for themselves with this vote,” Santos commented to journalists as he left the session just before the end of the vote. “To hell with this place!”, he also said, before adding: “You know what? As I am unofficially no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer your questions!”
Top Republican Party leaders, starting with House Speaker Mike Johnson, voted to keep Santos in Congress, but let their group vote with their conscience. The expulsion of George Santos is the culmination of the series of scandals that have accompanied him almost since his election. Newly elected Republican in a Democratic constituency on Long Island, his victory helped the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives after the midterm elections in 2022.
But the embarrassing revelations began to emerge almost immediately after his election. The new elected official quickly appeared to be a complete mythomaniac and a compulsive liar. We learned that Santos had invented Ukrainian Jewish ancestry from Holocaust survivors, and had lied by claiming that his mother had been killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001. He had also completely invented his diplomas and his career on Wall Street, surviving a brain tumor or starting a charity.
Photos of him as a drag queen at the Rio carnival had surfaced, as well as various cases of embezzlement and scams, ranging from bad checks written to buy dogs from an Amish breeder in Pennsylvania to embezzlement. His presence in the House quickly became a distraction and embarrassment to the Republican Party. But the very narrow majority of the party made his colleagues hesitate to expel him. To his mythomania were added serious crimes.
Santos was also charged with duping his campaign donors by stealing their identities to use their credit cards for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses, transferring some of the money to his personal bank account and using the remains to feed his campaign coffers. Last March, the House Ethics Committee finally announced the opening of an investigation into Santos.
According to his damning report, Santos allegedly filed false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission, and used campaign funds for personal purposes: Botox treatments, purchases at luxury boutiques like Hermès or Ferragamo, weekends in the Hamptons or simply go play at the casino in Atlantic City. Santos' expulsion further reduces the Republican majority in the House, with 221 Republican seats to 213 Democrats.