Nov 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

George Santos' surreal saga finally comes crashing down

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The extraordinary tale of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), one of the most prolific fabulists of the modern political era, is set to end in dramatic but predictable fashion following the release of a scathing ethics report today.

Why it matters: Santos — who responded to the report by announcing he would not seek re-election — could become just the sixth person in U.S. history to be expelled from the House of Representatives unless he chooses to preemptively resign.

  • The ongoing House Ethics Committee probe was cited by both Republicans and Democrats in two previous failed attempts to expel Santos, but that barrier has now been lifted.
  • Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.), the chair of the Ethics Committee, plans to file a privileged resolution on Friday to expel Santos: "He's gone," predicted one House Republican.

Driving the news: The 56-page Ethics report determined that substantial evidence of misconduct by Santos — who already faces 23 federal criminal charges — shows that he "cannot be trusted."

  • "Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit," the usually circumspect Ethics Committee declared. "He blatantly stole from his campaign."
  • "He sustained all of this through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience."

What they're saying: Santos, who did not cooperate with the investigation, condemned the Ethics report on X as a "disgusting politicized smear" and called for states "TO RISE UP AND COMMENCE AN ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION!" — though it was unclear what exactly he meant by that.

Zoom in: The list of personal expenses that Santos allegedly paid for with campaign funds borders on cartoonish:

  • Hotels, resorts and spas in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and the Hamptons.
  • $20,000 in rent.
  • Over $4,000 at Hermes and $6,000 at Ferragamo stores.
  • Purchases at Sephora and OnlyFans.
  • Botox.

Between the lines: The Santos saga has been a gift to late-night comedians and online memesters, but his expulsion would have significant real-world implications for a GOP conference already struggling to pass legislation.

  • "Why would we want to expel a guy ... [when] we've got a three-seat, four-seat majority? What are we doing?" Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) told Axios, suggesting he would hold off voting for expulsion unless Santos is convicted.
  • New York Democrats — who are routinely reminded that Santos' victory in their state helped Republicans clinch the majority last year — are eager to reclaim his Long Island swing seat and redeem that embarrassing defeat.

What to watch: The last expulsion resolution, which requires a two-thirds majority, failed 179-213. Dozens of lawmakers already have announced they will flip their vote to favor expulsion — and momentum is still building.

The bottom line: Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper about the most "offensive" thing Santos did, Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) responded bluntly: "Running."

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