Rep. George Santos on Wednesday faced a possible vote to expel him from the House of Representatives for what some of his colleagues call a “question of right and wrong,” although a last-minute statement from the Ethics Committee could throw a wrench in that plan.
A handful of fellow GOP lawmakers sent a letter to colleagues calling it a moral issue to oust the New York lawmaker over accusations he is a “con man” and serial liar who is facing a mushrooming federal fraud trial.
The letter was signed by first-term New York Republican lawmakers Rep. Tony D’Esposito, Rep. Nick Lalota, Rep. Mike Lawler, Rep. Marc Molinaro and Rep. Brandon Williams.
“This issue is not a political one, but a moral one,” the lawmakers wrote. “Plain and simple – this is a question of right and wrong.”
All the lawmakers represent districts that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, putting them in political peril in 2024.
Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y., a fellow freshman lawmaker who represents a more safely Republican upstate district, did not sign the letter even though he was previously listed as a co-sponsor of the measure to expel Santos.
The letter also rejects the argument that expelling Santos before he is convicted of a crime would set a dangerous precedent.
“If a candidate for Congress lies about everything about himself to get their votes … House Members will expel the fraudster and give voters a timely opportunity to have proper representation,” the letter said.
The push to expel Santos needs a two-thirds vote of all House members. That means nearly 80 Republicans would have to join all Democrats to oust him.
The expulsion hit a potential roadblock late Tuesday when the House ethics committee unexpectedly issued a highly unusual statement saying that it would give members an unspecified update on its probe into Santos later this month.
The statement could provide ammunition to Republican leaders hoping to stall any vote on expelling Santos for as long as possible.
Newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson has said he opposes expelling Santos before he is found guilty of any crime.
Johnson sought to tie the question of expelling Santos to the narrow Republican edge in the House: “We have no margin for error.”
But the five endangered Republicans who want to expel Santos pushed back against that argument: “Congress must … ensure accountability for those who have taken advantage of the American people – regardless of political party.”
Santos was recently hit with a superseding federal indictment accusing him of additional campaign finance and fraud charges.
He says he’s innocent of all charges and vows to fight to stay in Congress and run for reelection despite the local Nassau County Republican Party opposing such a run.
Fellow Republicans from suburban New York districts fear Santos could drag down all of them as Democrats use him as a poster boy for GOP corruption.
But it remains to be seen if they have the political mettle to follow through on the expulsion effort.
D’Esposito and fellow Republican critics of Santos launched a similar effort to expel him in the spring.
But they caved after ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy pushed to hand the Santos case to the House ethics committee for a probe. Nothing has come of that investigation so far.