The House Ethics Committee has decided that it will not recommend expulsion or any other punishment for House Representative George Santos (R-NY), who has recently been embroiled in a scandal over his alleged misuse of campaign funds. He has also made headlines over embellishments and mischaracterizations of his background and personal history.
The House Ethics Committee Report
The House Ethics Committee recently conducted an investigation into Santos, with 40 witnesses being contacted and 170,000 pages of documents being reviewed as part of their efforts. Over three dozen subpoenas were sent out in an attempt to establish whether Santos broke the law during his 2022 House campaign.
Up to Congress
The committee then released the evidence against Santos to allow Congress members to come to their own conclusions about whether Santos should remain in the House. The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS), said recommending Santos’ removal would’ve been a “much longer process.”
The Previous Vote
Santos previously survived a House vote calling for his expulsion. The motion was introduced by Republicans, and many Democrats aided a majority of Republicans to keep Santos in the House, largely because the investigation against him had not been completed. Expulsions are generally rare as they require two-thirds of members to be in favor.
New York House Republicans
The expulsion vote against Santos was introduced by his fellow New York House Republicans, and they have reiterated their plans to try to remove him again after Thanksgiving. “The substance in the report will drive other members to get to yes,” Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) claimed.
In his speech prior to his expulsion vote at the beginning of the month, Santos declared: “I’m fighting tooth and nail to clear my name in front of the entire world, Mr. Speaker. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m fighting by God’s grace.”
After being federally indicted, Santos pleaded not guilty in October to a 23-count charge that included identity theft, money laundering, wire fraud, and theft of public funds.
Accusations of Fraud
Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) said, “The report is going to affirm and confirm what we already know: George Santos is a fraud; he should not be a member of Congress.”
The Report Contents
The contents of the report, which have since been made public, found that there is “substantial evidence” that Santos broke the law, such as by appropriating campaign funds to pay for vacations, Botox, and OnlyFans subscriptions.
Prior to the release of the report, Santos maintained he would not step down from Congress, stating: “Like I said before, I’m staying in office for sure. I will take whatever comes my way, the way it comes.” However, he has since suggested that he will not in fact run for reelection.
Risk of Removal
It is likely that Santos will be removed before he even has a chance to seek reelection, as House members who voted against the previous resolution cited allowing Santos due process, which he has now been granted.
The Expulsion Resolution
Though the committee did not make a recommendation to expel Santos, Guest has introduced a resolution to call for his removal, which will likely be voted on after Thanksgiving. This time, an increasing number of Representatives have expressed that they would vote against Santos.
People on online forums shared their anger at Santos for his fraudulent and unlawful behavior, with one commenter suggesting how he could best be punished. “All of the “donors” should launch a class action lawsuit against Santos to get all the money back and a little bit more for deception and lies. Send him back into poverty,” one person wrote.
Getting Off Easily
Others felt that Santos should be fired rather than allowed a dignified resignation, with one poster declaring: “He should be expelled rather than being allowed to resign. He should be tried and convicted, and denied his congressional pension.” Another proclaimed, “This lying turd needs to be in prison.”
Lack of Action
Many forum members criticized the Republican-led committee for their lack of recommendation against Santos. “So they admit they have no ethics?” one poster questioned, whereas another stated that “The Republicans have no ethics, morals, or integrity.” One user wondered: “What is the point of doing an ethics investigation and using taxpayer funds to do it if you aren’t willing to take action on the results?”
Several people failed to believe Santos’ assertions that he would step down at the end of his term. “So it’s safe to assume he’s gonna seek reelection then, huh?” one commenter asked, alluding to Santos’ history of telling lies.
Bizarre Spending Habits
The most talked-about part of the story was Santos’ spending habits, particularly the revelations that he spent money from his campaign donors on Botox and OnlyFans. “You wouldn’t dare write a fictional character this ridiculous,” one contributor noted.
On the other hand, some users couldn’t help but make light of the fact that Santos spent Republican donors’ money on such frivolous things, with someone joking that paying for adult content on OnlyFans was “probably the most ethical thing he’s done.”