Washington, Nov 1 (EFE) – The United States House of Representatives voted Wednesday not to expel beleaguered Republican lawmaker George Santos, following a push by members of his own party to do so after he was charged with 23 felonies in recent weeks.
The vote was 179-213, well short of the two-thirds qualified majority required under Congress rules to pass such a measure, with 19 lawmakers voting “present.”
Santos faces charges including fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, false testimony, conspiracy against the United States and falsification of documents, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The Republican had gained notoriety much earlier, for the web of falsehoods he concocted to get elected in the November 2022 mid-term elections.
The resolution to expel Santos, who represents a district in New York, was introduced by five other Republicans from the same state – Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota, Marcus J. Molinaro, Mike Lawler and Brandon Williams.
All represent districts that are considered moderate, so their re-election next year, and therefore their political futures, could hinge on small details.
“Anybody that’s been awake, that’s been reading the newspaper and looking at Twitter understands every reason as to why he should be (expelled),” D’Esposito said.
Santos is facing an internal investigation by the House Ethics Committee, which the Republicans control thanks to their majority.
The weakness of that majority, barely a dozen members, is in fact one of the reasons many conservatives voted against Santos’ expulsion.
Another is the precedent that would be set by expelling a member who has been accused but not yet convicted.
The 35-year-old congressman is accused of “stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.
Santos’ former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, who is also charged in the case, pleaded guilty to fraud, which his detractors say is sufficient grounds for expulsion.
Only five congressmen have been expelled in the history of the US House of Representatives, three of them during the Civil War for supporting the warring side. The other two were convicted of bribery in 1980 and 2002. EFE