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George Santos expelled from Congress as vulnerable California Republicans flip their votes

George Santos addresses reporters outside the Capitol
George Santos (R-N.Y.) speaks to reporters after the vote to expel him from the House on Friday.
(Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images)
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Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican under felony indictment in connection with fraud, money laundering and other crimes, was expelled from the House on Friday, becoming only the sixth lawmaker ever forcibly removed from the chamber.

The vote is a dramatic bookend to his 10-month tenure in Washington. It followed allegations in the media and in a House Ethics Committee report that Santos had fabricated much of his biography, defrauded donors and spent campaign money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle, including Botox injections, personal travel and subscriptions on OnlyFans.

Two previous attempts to expel Santos failed after most Republicans and some Democrats expressed opposition to expelling a member who had not been convicted of a crime.

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But the scathing 56-page House Ethics Committee report, which found “overwhelming evidence of his misconduct,” shifted votes away from the New York lawmaker.

Friday’s vote was 311 to 114, with 105 Republicans joining nearly every Democrat in voting to expel Santos.

The California delegation, which had been deeply divided in previous attempts to oust the New Yorker, swung hard against him. Six California Republicans and seven Democrats, including Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine, a Senate candidate, shifted from opposing Santos’ expulsion or voting “present” just a few weeks ago to supporting his removal on Friday.

GOP Reps. David Valadao of Hanford, Michelle Steel of Seal Beach, Young Kim of Anaheim Hills, John Duarte of Modesto and Ken Calvert of Corona, who all face competitive reelection contests next year, were among those who shifted from opposing Santos’ expulsion in November to supporting it on Friday.

Democrats Robert Scott of Virginia and Nikema Williams of Georgia voted against Santos’ expulsion on Friday, as did 112 Republicans, including Californians Darrell Issa of Bonsall, Tom McClintock of Elk Grove and Doug LaMalfa of Richvale.

Former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield did not vote. Democrats Al Green of Texas and Jonathan Jackson of Illinois voted “present.”

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Santos has denied wrongdoing, and attributed his removal to colleagues’ petty beefs. He said he was not given due process since he had not been convicted of the charges against him.

Congress: The Ohio Democrat is ousted by an overwhelming count of 420 to 1. In a packed gallery, he protests his innocence in a colorful, impassioned speech.

July 25, 2002

House Republican leaders declined to urge their colleagues to vote for or against Santos’ removal. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) allowed Republicans to “vote their conscience,” but said he was concerned about setting a modern-day precedent by expelling a member who had not been convicted of a federal crime.

Johnson voted against expelling Santos, as did other Republican leaders including Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Majority Leader Steve Scaliseof Louisiana and GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.

Expulsions, which require a two-thirds majority to succeed, are rare. During the Civil War, three House members were removed for supporting the Confederacy.

Two others were expelled after being convicted ofcorruption charges: Democratic Reps. Michael J. “Ozzie” Myers of Pennsylvania in 1980 and James A. Traficant Jr. of Ohio in 2002.

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Santos’ removal weakens Republicans’ hold over the House, leaving the party with just a 7-vote advantage. A special election to fill Santos’ seat is expected next year.

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Long Beach) in February led the first effort to oust Santos after allegations of fabrications came to light. The measure, which eventually prompted a formal investigation by the House Ethics Committee, failed to gain enough support from the GOP to reach the needed two-thirds majority.

The second effort to remove Santos came last month from Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.), whose resolution attracted 213 votes, still short of a two-thirds majority.

The 31 Democrats who voted against Santos’ removal in November included California’s Porter, Mark Takano of Riverside and Zoe Lofgren of San Jose. Democratic Reps. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord, Ami Bera of Elk Grove, Jimmy Gomez of Los Angeles and Brad Sherman of Northridge voted “present.” Two Californians — Mike Garcia and Kevin Kiley — were among the 24 Republicans who supported the earlier attempt to oust Santos.

Lofgren said she found Santos’ “behavior to be disgraceful,” but voted against expelling him in the second vote because the ethics probe wasn’t concluded.

Democrats have chided the GOP for slow-walking accountability for Santos.

Robert Garcia, in an Wednesday interview with The Times, touted his maneuver earlier this week to force House Republicans to move quickly on Santos this week. Garcia and much of the chamber had pushed Santos to avoid an embarrassing floor vote and resign, but Santos refused.

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“He could do the country and his constituents a service if he just resigned,” Garcia said before the final expulsion vote. “A person that fabricates their entire life story and gets elected on a lie should not be in Congress.”

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