Indicted Republican lawmaker George Santos faces new US House move to oust him

By Moira Warburton and Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. House Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday moved to force a vote to expel Republican Representative George Santos, who has been engulfed in scandal since his 2022 election and charged with corruption.

The move, what is known as a “privileged resolution”, requires a vote on the matter within two legislative days. The motion requires a two-thirds majority in the House, which Republicans control by a narrow 221-213 majority.

Santos’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He said on Friday in an interview on X Spaces that he expected to be expelled.

Santos’ district, which includes a small slice of New York City and some of its eastern suburbs, is seen as competitive.

The maneuver, which was made as protesters outside the Capitol called for Santos’ expulsion accompanied by a 15-foot (4.56 m) balloon bearing the first-term lawmaker’s likeness, is the most recent threat to Santos’ seat.

Democrats Robert Garcia and Dan Goldman, the lawmakers who filed Tuesday’s resolution, introduced resolutions to expel Santos earlier this year that were referred to the House of Representatives Ethics Committee.

Santos survived a vote to oust him on Nov. 1, but on Nov. 16, following a scathing report by the Republican-majority Ethics Committee, its chairman, Michael Guest, filed his own motion to expel Santos.

The House has not yet scheduled a vote on either new motion.

Later on Tuesday, Anthony D’Esposito, a New York Republican lawmaker, offered his own motion to force a vote on the expulsion of Santos, using Guest’s resolution.

Guest introduced his motion after a report by his House colleagues suggested that federal prosecutors should bring additional charges against Santos, 35, who fabricated large aspects of his life story in his election campaign.

The report documented a pattern of poor bookkeeping and misuse of campaign funds so pervasive that his election “called into question the integrity of the House.”

Santos previously pleaded not guilty to federal charges by prosecutors in New York of laundering campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and charging the credit cards of donors without permission, among other campaign finance violations.

Santos said after the release of the report that he would not run for reelection in 2024, but refused to step down before then.

The Ethics Committee said it referred more “uncharged and unlawful conduct” to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, including new evidence of falsely reported loans received by Santos’ unsuccessful 2020 congressional campaign, improper loan repayments and “systemic reporting errors” in both his 2020 and 2022 campaigns.

The report also detailed extravagant – and possibly illegal – spending of campaign money, including thousands of dollars on Botox, luxury brands such as Hermes, and “smaller purchases” from OnlyFans, a website known for sexual content.

A number of the 182 Republicans who voted against Santos’ expulsion on Nov. 1 have said publicly they would not do so again.

If expelled, Santos would be the sixth lawmaker to be ousted by a vote of the House.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Moira Warbuton; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool and Miral Fahmy)