Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House Republican Conference meeting on the speaker of the House discussions in Longworth Building on Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
House Republicans who previously opposed efforts to oust GOP Rep. George Santos are now lining up to expel him after a scathing ethics report accused the embattled New York lawmaker of brazen campaign fraud and theft.
But it remains to be seen if enough of them will turn on their fellow Republican in order to kick him out of Congress, a move that requires the support of two-thirds of the chamber.
The report, released Thursday morning 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 35-year-old freshman “blatantly stole from his campaign,” deceiving donors and submitting fake campaign loans while sustaining a “series of lies” about his background and experience, the report alleged.
The report also accuses Santos of using money intended as campaign donations to “enrich himself,” including by spending more than $4,000 at luxury clothing store Hermes and making purchases on adult cam site OnlyFans.
Santos, who was already facing related criminal charges in New York federal court, announced later Thursday that he would not seek reelection in 2024. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, which is scheduled to go to trial next September.
“I will continue on my mission to serve my constituents up until I am allowed,” Santos wrote on X shortly after the report came out. I will however NOT be seeking re-election for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.
Santos has previously rejected calls from both parties for him to resign before the end of his term.
An effort to expel Santos on Nov. 1 failed on the House floor in a 179-213 vote — though 24 Republicans voted for the resolution, which was led by a group of New York GOP members. In May, the GOP-majority House avoided a Democratic attempt to remove Santos by voting to refer the matter to the House Ethics panel.
The third time may be the charm: House Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest, R-Miss., plans to introduce another resolution to expel Santos from Congress, the chairman’s chief of staff told CNBC on Thursday.
Any such resolution will not come to a vote before Nov. 28 at the earliest, since the House is in recess.
Guest had voted against the most recent attempt to remove Santos from Congress. His committee had noted a day before that vote that it would announce an update on its probe of Santos by mid-November.
With the panel’s report now public, Guest and a growing number of other Republican lawmakers appear ready to vote to eject one of their own.
“I did not vote in the past to expel George because I didn’t believe there was due process,” Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said Thursday on MSNBC, but “I think he’s been given the fair due process now.”
“I purposely waited for the results of the Ethics Committee’s report to come out before passing judgment,” said Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C. “However, given its findings of the facts of this case, I find his behavior reprehensible and not worthy of a member of Congress. I will vote to expel him.”
Three Republicans from Iowa, Reps. Zach Nunn, Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, joined the calls for Santos to leave Congress, as did Reps. Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who struggled to corral a razor-thin GOP House majority, had refused to join calls for Santos to resign.
His successor, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., had initially taken the same stance: “We have no margin for error,” he said in October, “and so, George Santos is due due process, right?”
In a statement Thursday evening, a spokesman for Johnson called the ethics report’s findings “very troubling.”
“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,” the statement said.