House ethics investigation into George Santos: Can he be expelled from Congress?
George Santos has turned himself in to federal law enforcement after being charged. Could he be expelled if found guilty?
Earlier this year, it became clear that Rep. George Santos, a Republican congressman elected to New York’s 3rd Congressional District in November, had lied to his constituents about his credentials. After the lies became public, a House Ethics Committee investigation was announced to scrutinize his conduct.
After being elected, reporters found inconsistencies with Rep. Santos’ résumé and public records and information. The congressman admitted to embellishing his credentials, leading the Republican Party of Nassau County, which had endorsed his candidacy, to call for his resignation.
On Wednesday, 10 May, Rep. Santos turned himself in to federal law enforcement after being charged on thirteen counts that range from making false statements to the House of Representatives and theft of public funds to money laundering.
The House Ethics Committee investigation remains ongoing
In early March, the House Ethics Committee announced that they would be investigating the allegations made against Rep. Santos. The press release noted that opening an investigation “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.” Additionally, the committee said that they would not make any further comments until the process had run its course.
The arrest of the congressman increases the stakes for his political future substantially. After the investigation had been announced by the Ethics Committee, Rep. Santos announced that he would be seeking re-election, to the shock of many of his constituents who have called on him to resign.
Santos has struggled to gain Republican support
And his constituents are not alone. Rep. Santos has faced opposition from within his own party ever since his mistruths were revealed in the aftermath of his election win last November. At the State of the Union address last month, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney appeared to confront Rep. Santos in the chamber, and later told reporters that the freshman lawmaker “shouldn’t be in Congress.”
Despite receiving tepid support, at best, from his own party, Rep. Santos’ place in the House was assumed to be secure due to the Republicans’ narrow majority in the chamber. GOP Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy has already struggled to maintain order in his disparate caucus and losing a member would only that effort more difficult.
Can George Santos be removed from Congress?
Members of Congress cannot be impeached or recalled. The only way to have them removed from office is to vote them out, the opportunity for which comes up every two years.
With such a slim majority in the House of Representatives, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has walked a tight line of support for the congressman while distancing himself and the party from his lies. If Rep. Santos were to resign, the seat would likely be filled by a Democrat, adding a level of petty partisan politics to the ongoing affair.