George Santos expelled from Congress

The lying Long Island representative was ousted Friday, becoming only the sixth person in the nation’s history to be expelled.

Rep. George Santos and his staff walk through tunnels beneath the Capitol on the day of his expulsion from the House.

Rep. George Santos and his staff walk through tunnels beneath the Capitol on the day of his expulsion from the House. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Members of the House voted to expel Republican Rep. George Santos on Friday morning, with a bipartisan group of 311 members voting in favor of his ouster. The extraordinary move comes in the second vote the body held on the matter after an initial vote failed one month ago. Under New York state law, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul now has 10 days to declare the date of a special election to replace Santos in the 3rd Congressional District on Long Island.

Given the timing of the expulsion vote, a special election in New York will most likely take place during the month of February. “I am prepared to undertake the solemn responsibility of filling the vacancy in New York’s 3rd District,” Hochul said in a social media statement following the vote. In comments made to NY1, Hochul added that she is in “constant communication” with Democratic Party leaders regarding selecting a special election candidate. “We have to get a good-quality candidate, someone that’s strong, a strong fighter for Long Island, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Hochul said. “We get someone who can win the election, someone who has no background to be concerned about.” She added that she believes a Democratic victory in the special election would “start the trend” of Democratic wins in swing districts.

Although many Republican and Democratic candidates have already announced campaigns for the seat in 2024, local party leaders will nominate a single candidate to run on their party line for the special election to finish out the rest of Santos’ current term. Others may choose to run as independents. Former Rep. Tom Suozzi – who gave up his seat to run against Hochul in the Democratic primary for governor last year – is a heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination, although not a guarantee. “In close consultation with Governor Kathy Hochul and Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Queens Democratic Chair, Gregory Meeks, and myself will be working expeditiously to nominate the most qualified candidate with the best chance of success in the upcoming Special Election to fill the 3rd Congressional seat,” state and Nassau Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs said in a statement.

Suozzi called the expulsion a “much-needed step in our journey to repair a broken system.” Fellow Democratic candidate former state Sen. Anna Kaplan also applauded the vote while pitching herself as the best candidate to replace Santos and run in a special election. “This campaign has real momentum,” she said in a statement. Kaplan told City & State that she is scheduled to meet with party leaders who will be in charge of choosing the special election nominee Friday afternoon. 

A crowded field of Republicans makes the front-runner in the party less clear. Top fundraisers among declared Republican candidates include retired New York City police detective Mike Sapraicone, who one Long Island source has bipartisan appeal, and Air Force veteran Kellen Curry, whom another Long Island source suggested has inroads with the Nassau County Republicans. Sources on Long Island have also suggested that County Legislator Mazi Pilip, who has not declared a candidacy, and state Sen. Jack Martins would be top contenders if they sought the seat.

Everyone in the New York delegation voted to expel Santos with the exception of Republican Reps. Santos, Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney, who voted against. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not vote on the resolution. 

The expulsion vote followed the release in November of a damning report from the House Ethics Committee on Santos’ campaign finance practices, including spending campaign money on luxury clothes and botox – and not paying his staff. The Republican-led committee found “substantial evidence” that Santos “violated federal criminal laws.” After the report dropped, Santos announced he would not seek reelection in 2024, but refused to resign from office, despite calls to do so from within his own party and his district. In October, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District charged Santos with 23 counts in a federal indictment. Those counts included identity theft in which he allegedly stole a donor’s credit card number to send himself money, money laundering and lying to the Federal Elections Commission. 

Santos has not been convicted of any crimes and has pleaded not guilty in federal court.