Related video: George Santos expects to be removed from Congress
Scandal-plagued New York Republican Rep George Santos has refused to resign from his post, despite a looming vote to expel him from the House.
Mr Santos said on an X spaces broadcast that if the vote takes place on Thursday, it would coincide with his second wedding anniversary, saying that it would be “kind of not cool”.
On Wednesday afternoon, Speaker Mike Johnson told Axios, “I think it will be Friday,” but the timing of the vote remains unclear.
Democratic Reps Robert Garcia and Dan Goldman filed a privileged resolution to expel him on Tuesday and the House will have to handle it within two legislative days.
Mr Garcia said it was “an important insurance policy to ensure that the vote happens and that we get rid of him this week,” according to Punchbowl News.
Republicans are unlikely to back the Democratic resolution to oust Mr Santos, with the filing by the Democrats putting pressure on House Ethics chair GOP Rep Michael Guest to make a push on his own measure to remove the 35-year-old.
All this comes after a 56-page report from the House Ethics Committee released earlier this month outlined “substantial evidence” that Mr Santos violated federal law.
Arizona senator asks Siri to find last House member
Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, was spotted at the Capitol on Tuesday asking Siri who the last member of the House to be expelled was.
“I’m just curious,” he told The Independent.
The last member to be expelled was Ohio Democrat Jim Traficant in 2002.
He served nine terms in the House between January 1985 and July 2002 when he was booted from the lower chamber following his conviction on racketeering, bribery, and fraud. He was only the second lawmaker to be expelled from the House since the Civil War.
“Glib and voluble, he was known for wearing cowboy boots, skinny ties and out-of-date polyester suits and for a bouffant mound of hair that seemed to defy gravity,” Matt Schudel wrote at the time.
The Los Angeles Times referred to it as a “Planet of the Apes sort of hair helmet,” while Washingtonian magazine wrote that it was “a creature from Lake Erie before it was cleaned up”.
Before joining Congress, he served as the sheriff of Mahoning Country. He was put on trial in 1983 after prosecutors acquired a tape that included him saying he had accepted more than $100,000 in bribes from organised crime. But despite his complete lack of legal training, Traficant represented himself and managed to argue that he had collected the bribes as part of a sting operation and he was acquitted.
He became known for his brief, rambling speeches on the House floor, often ending with a Star Trek reference: “Beam me up, Mr Speaker.”
In 1997, he said: “Let us tell it like it is. When you hold this economy to your nosey, this economy does not smell so rosy. If there is any consolation to the American workers, I never heard of anyone committing suicide by jumping out of a basement window.”
The following year, he said: “Russia gets $15bn in foreign aid from Uncle Sam. In exchange, Uncle Sam gets nuclear missiles pointed at our cities, two tape decks and three cases of vodka. Beam me up.”
In 2002, Mr Traficant faced a 10-count felony indictment for racketeering, bribery and fraud, with federal prosecutors alleging that he required a number of his aides to pay him kickbacks each month of as much as $2,500 just to work for him. Yet other staff were required to bale hay on his Ohio farm or repair his Washington DC houseboat. He also faced allegations that he filed false tax returns and pushed businesses in his district to provide goods and services at no charge.
He once again acted as his own attorney, but this time he was convicted on all counts.
On 24 July 2002, he was removed from the House after a vote of 420 to one.
After making a comment about what he called the “political prostitutes” in Congress, he said: “I want to apologize to all the hookers of America for associating them with the United States Congress.”
Gustaf Kilander and Eric Garcia30 November 2023 08:00
The incredible rise and dramatic fall of George Santos
Congressman George Santos’ tenure has been anything but dull — his rise to power and fall from grace have been equally mired in controversy.
After less than two years in Congress, his list of lies and scandals appears to have finally grown too long for him to defend anymore, as he announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2024 after the release of a damning House Ethics Committee report.
The committee said it found “substantial evidence” that Mr Santos had broken federal laws after finding “additional uncharged and unlawful conduct,” which included using campaign funds to make purchases at Hermes, Sephora and OnlyFans.
In 2022, Mr Santos was elected as the Republican Party’s first openly gay, non-incumbent member of Congress, and touted himself as a living embodiment of the American dream.
Bevan Hurley30 November 2023 07:00
Credit card scams and unpaid rent
In February, it was reported that New York City housing court records showed that Tiffany Lee Devolder Santos owed $39,050 in back rent to the landlord.
Mr Santos had reportedly failed to pay rent in the Queens apartment he shared with his sister before being elected to Congress in a state of disrepair.
The next month, a Brazilian man — Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha — who was deported from the US after being convicted of credit card skimming fraud reportedly told federal authorities that Mr Santos was the mastermind of the scheme.
Trelha claimed Mr Santos had taught him how to skim card information and clone cards in Seattle in 2017.
Trelha claimed Mr Santos visited him in jail in Seattle after his arrest and threatened him not to reveal his part in the scheme to authorities.
Responding to the allegations at the time, Mr Santos told reporters that he was “innocent”.
John Bowden30 November 2023 06:00
George Santos mocked by Jimmy Kimmel for saying expulsion will be ‘badge of honour’
Mr Kimmel has been recently mourning the fact that one of the favourite subjects on his show, Mr Santos, may no longer deliver any cringeworthy moments to monologue about after he potentially leaves Congress, so he’s getting them in while he can.
The 35-year-old Republican is due to face a vote of expulsion from Congress after damning evidence was revealed by a House Ethics Report on bizarre violations of federal law that he made.
Despite the public embarrassment that came with the revelations he used donor money to buy Botox treatments and an OnlyFans subscription and the possible end to his short political career, Mr Santos was steadfast in his proclamation that if he was removed from Congress, he would “wear it like a badge of honour.”
Amelia Neath30 November 2023 05:00
Santos’ lies revealed post-election
A bombshell New York Times report on 19 December revealed to a broader audience for the first time many of Mr Santos’ fabrications and lies about his employment and education history.
A pressure group formed by citizens in his 3rd Congressional District began holding protests outside his campaign office to try to force his expulsion from Congress.
As Mr Santos’ pile of scandals grew, he threw himself behind Kevin McCarthy’s campaign for Speaker of the House.
Mr McCarthy welcomed the support given his razor-thin majority, and refused to take action on any of the mounting ethical scandals, even as a growing number of New York Republicans called for him to be removed from Congress.
At the State of the Union in February, Mr Santos had an altercation with Mitt Romney after the Utah Senator told him he didn’t belong in Congress and “should be embarrassed.”
“Tell that to the 142,000 who voted for me”, Mr Santos reportedly replied.
Following the speech, Mr Romney called the New York Republican a “sick puppy.”
In March, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into whether Mr Santos had “engaged in unlawful activity”.
John Bowden30 November 2023 04:00
‘He’s most likely just a fabulist’
Soon after his 2020 election defeat, Mr Santos began raising money for the next congressional race.
New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who is now the third-ranking Republican in the House, endorsed him in 2021.
Later that year, a vulnerability study commissioned with Mr Santos’ approval found alarming revelations, and many of his staffers resigned, according to the Times.
Among other things, it found he had falsely claimed to have been endorsed by Mr Trump, along with many of the lies about his job history and personal wealth that have since been revealed.
Congressional leaders learned of his deceptions by 2022. According to the Times, Dan Conston, the leader of the Kevin McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, tried to circulate the report’s findings to prominent donors.
Two pieces of luck helped paved the way for his election to Congress in 2022: Thomas Suozzi, the 3rd District’s incumbent lawmaker, announced he would not seek re-election and redistricting amounted in a new congressional district map gerrymandered to add a swathe of Republican areas.
Mr Santos again ran unopposed for the Republican nomination, and faced Democrat Robert Zimmerman in the general election, the first House race between two openly gay candidates.
Still, Mr Santos went on to take the district that November by eight points.
Bevan Hurley30 November 2023 03:15
Early political career
Mr Santos’ murky and ever-changing biography makes it difficult to parse fact from fiction during his early forays into politics.
The next year, he reportedly made his first attempt to get elected to Congress but failed to secure enough signatures to get on the Queens County Republican Committee.
That month he launched his campaign for the United States House of Representatives in New York’s 3rd Congressional District in 2020 against Democratic incumbent Thomas Suozzi.
No other candidates put their names forward. When pressed by reporters why he lived out of the district, he claimed to reside at an address that turned out to be his treasurer’s.
He lost the general election by about 46,000 votes, but still exceeded Republican expectations for the strongly Democratic district. He refused to concede the election.
Mr Santos spoke at the Stop the Steal rally at the Ellipse in Washington DC on the day of the Capitol riots on January 6, claiming his election had been stolen. A roommate would later claim that Mr Santos had worn his stolen $520 Burberry scarf to the rally.
In 2020, while running for Congress, he began working at Florida investment firm Harbor City Capital, which was later accused in a civil lawsuit by the Security and Exchange Commission of running a $17m Ponzi scheme.
He has publicly denied any involvement in the alleged fraud.
Bevan Hurley30 November 2023 02:30
An alleged drag queen in Brazil
While living in Brazil, Mr Santos also reportedly performed as a drag queen named Kitara Ravache as a young man.
In January, Brazilian drag artist Eula Rochard posted photos to social media herself with a person wearing a red dress, bright red lipstick and dangling chandelier earrings who she identified as Mr Santos.
A Politico investigation later found that a user on Wikipedia named Anthony Devolder claimed to have participated in drag shows in Brazil as a teenager.
Mr Santos issued a furious denial of the claims on social media, at a time when his Republican Party was vilifying and seeking to ban drag queens from performing in some states.
He called allegations that he “‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false.” However, the next day, Mr Santos appeared to admit that he had participated in drag. “I was young and I had fun at a festival. Sue me for having a life,” he said.
He moved back to New York in 2011, working as a bilingual customer services representative at a call centre for Dish Network, a satellite TV firm, in Queens, where he would have earned about $15 an hour.
Mr Santos exhaled a stream of lies over a series of interviews: he alleged to have graduated from NYU business school, played as a star volleyball player at Baruch College, and attended the elite private school Horace Mann in New York, but failed to graduate due to financial difficulties, and worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. These claims have either been disproven or not substantiated.
In February, the non-profit Reclaim the Records obtained court records showing he married a Brazilian woman in 2012. His former wife, who has not been identified, filed for divorce in 2019.
He has since said he is married to a Brazilian man, whom he identified by the first name of Matt. He reportedly told Brazilian publication Piaui in November 2020 that his husband’s name is Matheus Gerard.
Bevan Hurley30 November 2023 01:45
False FEC reports
No campaign-related fraud is complete without lying to the Federal Election Commission, and Mr Santos is accused of doing that too. This remains an issue being played out publicly in New York court, where two of his former campaign staffers have now pleaded guilty to finance-related crimes in connection with his campaign. One pretended to be a staffer for Kevin McCarthy. Another, his treasurer, is accused of filing false reports to the FEC detailing the congressman’s fictitious loans and other questionable spending. She has testified in court filings that Mr Santos knew about her activities; he has denied this.
But the House investigation makes it clear that Mr Santos’s own campaign staff described their finances as a “black box” controlled and viewed only by Mr Santos and the treasurer, Nancy Marks. Despite his public statements to the contrary, the subcommittee report described him as “highly involved in his campaign’s financial operations”, and also faulted him for ignoring warnings from his own campaign staff about Ms Marks and financial irregularities within the campaign’s spending reports.
“Even if Representative Santoswas not aware of all of the other errors in his campaign reports relating to other receipts and disbursements, he had his own concerns and was repeatedly advised by multiple members of his team about concerns regarding Ms. Marks, but he failed to take meaningful action,” the report found.
John Bowden30 November 2023 01:00
Gustaf Kilander30 November 2023 00:15