The House voted to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from Congress — an action taken only five times in U.S. history and not for more than 20 years — in response to an array of alleged crimes and ethical lapses that came to light after the freshman was found to have fabricated key parts of his biography. The resolution to expel Santos passed in a 311-114 vote, with numerous Republican lawmakers turning against Santos in what was the third effort to expel the New York congressman this year, reports the Washington Post. Two Democrats voted present, and eight lawmakers did not vote. The strong Republican vote to oust him came despite some members of GOP leadership voicing concerns about setting a precedent of ousting a lawmaker who had not been convicted of a crime.
The vote came after the release of an Ethics Committee report that accused Santos of an array of misconduct — including stealing money from his campaign, deceiving donors about how contributions would be used, creating fictitious loans and engaging in fraudulent business dealings. Santos, the report alleges, spent hefty sums on personal enrichment, including visits to spas and casinos, shopping trips to high-end stores and payments to a subscription site that contains adult content. Santos has long denied wrongdoing and resisted calls to resign, claiming Thursday that fellow House members were “bullying” him and that the Ethics Committee report was incomplete and “littered with hyperbole.” He said Friday, “I’ve accepted the fate. I believe that if it’s God’s will to keep me here, I will stay, and if it’s his will for me to leave, I will leave and I will do so graciously." He told reporters, "As unofficially already no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer a single question to you guys." Santos also faces 23 federal criminal counts, including fraud, money laundering, falsifying records and aggravated identity theft.