U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on January 25, 2023.
U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on January 25, 2023.
(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

House Republicans Show Off 'Their Moral Bankruptcy' by Refusing to Oust Santos

"The American people expect their elected representatives to hold their colleagues to a higher ethical standard and punish those who violate the public's trust," said Stand Up America's Brett Edkins.

The progressive advocacy group Stand Up American on Wednesday blasted Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives for declining to expel GOP Congressman George Santos of New York, a serial liar who has been indicted on 13 federal charges.

"House Republicans have once again demonstrated their moral bankruptcy by shielding a deceitful and indicted fraudster in their ranks," declared Stand Up America managing director of policy and political affairs Brett Edkins.

"George Santos' seemingly endless lies and criminal behavior have disgraced the GOP and left voters in New York's 3rd Congressional District without real representation," he argued. "Still, today, House Republicans voted to put political expediency over common decency."

Edkins added that "the American people expect their elected representatives to hold their colleagues to a higher ethical standard and punish those who violate the public's trust. It's time for House Republicans to grow a backbone and fulfill their obligation to their constituents."

Rather than immediately ousting Santos—who faces charges including wire fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds—Republicans referred the expulsion resolution led by Democratic Reps. Robert Garcia (Calif.), Becca Balint (Vt.), and Eric Sorenson (Ill.) to the House Committee on Ethics.

Introduced Tuesday, the trio's privileged resolution cites a clause in the U.S. Constitution that states the House and Senate can determine how their members are disciplined, including by expulsion with a two-thirds majority.

Wednesday's 221-204 vote was along party lines, though the ethics panel's five Democrats—Susan Wild (Pa.), Glenn Ivey (Md.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Deborah Ross (N.C.), and Mark DeSaulnier (Calif.)—plus Democratic Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) abstained.

After the vote, Garcia—who has called for Santos' expulsion for months—took aim at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who had said Tuesday that the House Ethics Committee should investigate the embattled freshman Republican.

"George Santos is a fraud, and Kevin McCarthy's efforts to protect him with this vote will fail. We will continue to hold him and those who protect him accountable for his fraud and lies," Garcia tweeted Wednesday, adding that "the House Republicans are now officially the SAVE SANTOS CAUCUS."

According toThe Washington Post:

Santos said that if the Ethics Committee finds a reason to remove him, "that is the process."

In March, the Ethics Committee voted to create a bipartisan subcommittee to investigate claims about Santos.

In its March statement, the ethics panel said it is working to determine whether Santos, 34, may have "engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office."

Santos was released on $500,000 bond last week after being charged on Long Island. He has pleaded not guilty and told reporters outside the courthouse that he plans to fight "the witch hunt" against him.

Prosecutors allege Santos convinced supporters of his congressional campaign to donate to a company but then used the money for exorbitant personal expenses. They have also accused him of lying on federal disclosure forms and receiving unemployment benefits when he was employed at an investment firm.

Balint warned Tuesday that if the Republicans continue to accept Santos' alleged criminal activity, it will be "a sign of the deteriorating health of our government."

"Democracies don't die overnight; they erode slowly as we degrade our ethical standards and turn away from our values," she said. "Americans want to have faith in our democracy, but with trust in government at an all-time low it's critical we take action to restore that trust."

Separately from the criminal charges, Santos has admitted to lying about his educational and professional background and his connection to survivors of the Holocaust. A New York Times investigation found that he also lied about his employees having been killed in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

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