Former congressman George Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives Friday in a bipartisan vote that followed a House Committee on Ethics report claiming the Queens native deceived donors and “blatantly stole from his campaign.”
Allegations about the 35-year-old Republican’s checkered past were brought to light by a damning New York Times article published shortly after he was elected to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District in November 2022. That Dec. 19 exposé, which called into question nearly every claim Santos made about his personal and professional history, kicked off a chain of events leading to Friday’s historic expulsion.
Santos lied about his background including his education and heritage
His long list of apparent lies include campaign documents in which Santos referred to himself as “a proud American Jew,” as well as a 2021 tweet in which he claimed to be the “grandson of Holocaust refugees.”
Jewish news outlet The Forward reported Santos’ grandparents were both born in Brazil, well before Adolf Hitler took power in Germany. He later joked he’s “Jew-ish,” but was raised Catholic.
Santos also boasted on the campaign trail that he was educated at the Bronx’s prestigious Horace Mann School, then attended NYU and Baruch College, where he claimed he was a volleyball star. There’s no evidence he attended any of those schools.
That educational background prepared Santos to work for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on Wall Street, the disgraced politician bragged. Those companies have also denied any connection to him.
Santos falsely said his mom was a 9/11 victim
According to Santos, his mother was in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and later died from cancer due to the toxic air she breathed. But immigration documents obtained by The Washington Post indicate his mom, Fatima Devolder, went to Brazil in 1999, returned to the U.S. in 2003 and lived for another 13 years.
He claimed to be a Broadway producer (also a lie)
“Obviously, I don’t need to explain to you that this is a lie,” late night host Stephen Colbert joked about the claim in February. “But it’s also a really weird one because ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ is famously one of the biggest disasters in Broadway history.”
Congress investigates Santos’ lies further
While Santos’ absurd antics made for plenty of comic fodder, lawmakers and law enforcement officials spent much of 2023 investigating the elected official.
In January, citing “extensive public reporting” and comments made by Santos, Reps. Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman petitioned the House of Representatives to investigate their colleague’s conduct. Their concerns included “sparse and perplexing” financial disclosure reports in 2022 and 2000, when Santos first ran for office and lost. On Jan. 12, Torres and Goldman introduced the “SANTOS Act” — an acronym for “Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker.”
A 10-member House ethics committee began an examination of Santos in March. The eight-month process would conclude with a damning 56-page report leading to his downfall.
Santos’ 2024 reelection campaign spending draws scrutiny
On April 17, a defiant Santos announced he would seek reelection in 2024. Between April and June, he raised nearly $180,000 for that reelection campaign, repaying himself $85,000, according to the Times. House investigators would later allege Santos lied about loaning money to his campaign, then supposedly reimbursed himself with cash from donors.
Democrats moved to expel Santos in May, though that effort was temporarily thwarted by House Republicans who put the matter in the hands of the ethics committee. On May 10, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charged Santos with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, a single count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. He denied all wrongdoing.
On Oct. 10, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York announced a 23-count superseding indictment alleging Santos falsified records, committed identity theft, laundered money and lied to the House of Representatives. The MAGA politician dismissed the claims made against him as a “witch hunt.”
But five days earlier, former Santos campaign manager Nancy Marks pleaded guilty to conspiring with the congressman in some of his alleged crimes. According to court documents, she claimed Santos made a fake $500,000 loan to his campaign, when he had less than $8,000 in his personal business account.
Marks will be sentenced in April for her role in the scheme. Prosecutors have recommended she serve up to four years in prison.
An initial expulsion attempt fails to pass
By Nov. 1, an effort championed by New York GOP members forced a vote to dump the congressman, but that tally fell short, despite two dozen Republicans supporting the measure.
“The House has expelled five people in our history, three for joining the Confederacy as traitors to the Union and two after they were convicted of serious criminal offenses,” Raskin said in a statement. “Santos has not been criminally convicted yet of any of the offenses he has been indicted for that were cited in the Resolution nor has he been found guilty of ethics offenses in the House internal process.”
An ethics committee report provides the final nail in the coffin
On Nov. 16, the ethics committee’s long-awaited report was finally published. It accused Santos of using campaign money for personal travel, meals, Botox treatments and a subscription to a pornography site. Santos blasted the “biased report” in a tweet calling off his reelection campaign, but insisted he’d “continue to maintain my commitment to my conservative values in my remaining time in Congress.”
Santos’ time in office came to an end on Friday when 105 Republicans, and Raskin, lent support to a 311-114 vote leading to the congressman’s exit. He still faces criminal charges. Santos stalked off Capitol Hill following the vote, saying, “To hell with this place.”
A link to his congressional webpage now directs to a list of Current Vacancies of the 118th Congress.