George Santos has become the first congressman to be expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives without first being convicted of a felony since the Civil War. And he is the first Republican.
Predictions prior to the vote were that results would be close, since Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, a constitutional attorney, had said he would not vote for Santos’ expulsion, advising members to “vote your conscience.” But it was anything but.
More than 300 colleagues from both sides of the political aisle voted for the embattled congressman’s ouster, well over the two thirds needed.
Santos, who is being accused of identity theft, credit card fraud and utilizing campaign funds for trips to Las Vegas, the Hamptons and to pay his rent, among other allegations, has had little, if any support among his constituents.
“I think he should have been expelled a long time ago. He has so many character flaws so he doesn’t belong in any position of authority as far I can tell,” Frank Stroppel, of Glen Cove, said. “What disturbs me more is that he’s been there that long. The fact that so many people have stood by him, or not stood up against him all this time, that’s what bothers me.”
In May, California Democrat Rep. Robert Garcia introduced legislation to expel Santos, but it did not receive enough votes for passage. Anthony D’Esposito, a Republican representing New York’s 4th Congressional District, tried unsuccessfully in October.
D’Esposito did not respond to the Herald’s question of why he waited until October to try to expel Santos. Instead, he sent a statement on Dec. 1 after the attempt led by other congressional members was successful.
“The expulsion of George Santos has removed a stain from this institution and will allow the residents of New York’s 3rd Congressional District the opportunity to select a representative who is not engrossed in scandals,” D’Esposito wrote. “I will continue to fight for Long Islanders in Congress and work diligently to ensure a true conservative succeeds Santos.”
Many Republicans who had supported Santos during the two previous expulsion efforts said prior to the Dec. 1 vote they had changed their minds based on the results of the House Ethics Committee report.
The scathing 56-page report released on Nov. 16 details evidence Santos broke federal laws and delivered a “constant series of lies” to voters and donors on his way to winning a seat in the House of Representatives.
After the vote, Santos rushed to his car in an attempt to avoid the throng of press, but according to the Washington Post did say, “You know what? As unofficially already no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer a single question to you guys.”
Annette Capobianco, of Glen Cove, said she favored ending Santos’ tenure, based on his lack of ethics.
“He symbolizes all the wrong things,” she said. “My feelings are that most politicians are out for themselves. They’re not out for the people, which are people like me.”
Catherine Madden, a recent college graduate from Sea Cliff, found having Santos as her congressman personally offensive.
“I went to school out of state and people knew who he was. I’d say he’s my congressman and people would laugh,” Madden said. “It’s been kind of embarrassing for this district. Just knowing everything that he’s done.”
But not everyone is happy to see Santos leave. Phyllis Troutman, a Glen Cove resident, said although she did not approve of the allegations being waged against Santos if true, he was not much different than most elected leaders.
“I don’t think he should have been expelled because they’re all crooks,” Troutman said. “I think he’s done a pretty good job standing up for conservative principals and I think it’s pretty hypocritical of some of these other people in Congress.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a proclamation on Tuesday that a special election will be held to fill Santos’ vacant seat on Feb. 13. Party leaders from the county’s Democratic and Republican parties are interviewing candidates and it’s expected there will be an announcement of their decisions soon.
by Roksana Amid and Will Sheeline