Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest, the Chairman of the House Ethics Committee, filed a motion Friday to expel Rep. George Santos from Congress one day after his panel released a scathing report which found “substantial evidence” of wrongdoing by the embattled New York Republican.
"The evidence uncovered in the Ethics Committee’s Investigative Subcommittee investigation is more than sufficient to warrant punishment and the most appropriate punishment, is expulsion,” Guest said in a statement Friday. “So, separate from the Committee process and my role as Chairman, I have filed an expulsion resolution.”
"Representative Santos must be held accountable to the highest standards of conduct in order to safeguard the public's faith in this institution," the motion reads, later adding: "Given his egregious violations, Representative George Santos is not fit to serve as a Member of the United States House of Representatives."
The House could consider the motion as soon as Tuesday, Nov. 28, when Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess.
The panel's report Thursday charged that Santos "blatantly stole from his campaign," "sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit" and "reported fictitious loans to his political committees to induce donors and party committees to make further contributions to his campaign – and then diverted campaign money to himself as purported ‘repayments’ of those fictitious loans."
Among the panel's findings were expenditures from Santos' campaign to pay down credit card bills, on lavish trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey, Botox and spa treatments, goods from Hermes and Sephora and payments to OnlyFans.
Santos said Thursday he will not seek reelection following the report's release, calling it a "disgusting politicized smear" in a lengthy social media post. Late Thursday night, a defiant Santos called his time in Congress "my year from Hell" in a post on X, formerly Twitter, and announced a press conference for Thursday, Nov. 30, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol – though it's possible he could be expelled by then, should Guest's motion be successful.
"I will continue to fight for what I believe in and I will never back down," Santos said.
Several lawmakers who voted against Santos' expulsion earlier this month, or voted "present" due to the ongoing House Ethics probe, said that they would vote favorably on ousting him from Congress this time around.
"I intend to vote yes on any privileged expulsion resolution that is brought forward, as the work of the Committee is now complete, and I am no longer obligated to maintain neutrality," Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild, the top Democrat on the Ethics panel said in a statement Thursday.
"I voted to make sure Rep. Santos received his due process," North Carolina Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson said Thursday. "He has now received it. This report is fully damning. I will vote to expel him."
But one Republican told Axios that while the report "looks pretty damaging," he questioned "why would we want to expel a guy" when Republicans have "got a three-seat, four-seat majority. What are we doing?"
"I think until he's convicted, I'm going to hold off," Troy Nehls told the outlet.
There have already been two efforts to oust Santos from Congress this year, and both of them have been unsuccessful. The support of two-thirds of the House is required to expel a member of Congress.
Fellow New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis told Spectrum News NY1 on Friday that she believes there will be enough support to oust Santos.
"I think that this determination from the Ethics Committee makes all the difference, and you'll see the Democrats and Republicans who previously voted against will now vote for expulsion, myself included," she said.
The expulsion resolution also mentions the criminal charges Santos is facing, as well as recent guilty pleas from his ex-campaign treasurer and a former fundraiser.
The embattled New York congressman is facing 23 felony charges, including wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds. Prosecutors say he stole money from campaign donors and identities from family members, misled federal election officials and fabricated a $500,000 loan, among other alleged schemes.
In addition to his legal woes, Santos has been accused by journalists, acquaintances, business partners, fellow Republicans and former friends of lying for years about his career on Wall Street, academic credentials, athletic achievements, Hollywood roles, racial heritage, being the descendant of Holocaust survivors, losing his mother to the 9/11 terrorist attack and losing employees in the 2016 Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub that left 49 people dead.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, denied any wrongdoing and refused all calls to resign.
If Santos is removed, under New York State law, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, would have to call for a special election within 10 days of a vacancy, which would be held 70-80 days later. Several candidates from both parties have already lined up to replace Santos, including former Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat who vacated the seat representing parts of Long Island and Queens to challenge Hochul for governor in 2022.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Gov. Hochul said she would be "very happy" to call for a special election to replace Santos.
"He has to go away," Hochul said. "This MAGA clown car has come to a screeching halt instead of shifting into high gear. He and his colleagues and his enablers need to be held accountable. So I’m very happy to have him resign, stop the embarrassment that has befallen the people of his district and the State of New York, just go away."
"I'll be very happy to call that election," she continued.