Editorial: Convict Santos before ousting him: Ethics Committee fails to recommend expulsion

Less than an hour after the House Ethics Committee published their extensive report on the elected fraudster from New York, Con(gress)man George Santos took to Twitter to claim that he will not be running for a second term next year. Don’t believe him. Don’t believe anything this schnook says, since everything is a lie.

Only when petitions for the June primary are filed in April and Santos doesn’t submit will his absence from the ballot be real. Unless he pleads guilty by then, he’ll still be a free man, as his federal criminal trial on Long Island starts in September. But there’s a good chance he won’t be a member of Congress and we’ll have to stop calling him con(gress)man.

Not that Santos will resign (and give up the $174,000 government salary and medical coverage), but his disgusted colleagues perhaps will expel him, maybe as soon as they return from their Thanksgiving break. But they should not undo the 2022 election until Santos has been found guilty in a court of law or by the Ethics Committee.

Despite documenting many misdeeds with his campaign funds, the committee did not render a judgment or recommendation beyond to “publicly condemn” him. There is no standard Statement of Alleged Violation that they always use to recommend punishment by the full House, which can range from being reprimanded or reproved.

We know why they punted, as to not interfere with the ongoing criminal case. But the process matters greatly. Even press statements from Ethics Committee members calling for Santos’ expulsion isn’t the same thing as the bipartisan panel voting that way.

We have said from last December, when it was exposed by the press (belatedly) that Santos wasn’t a Jew, or a former banker or ever enrolled in college and his exploits and biography were all lies, that he should resign, but lying isn’t a crime.

Soon enough prosecutors started looking and they found many crimes to charge him with. And the ethics panel also dug and published their findings. But charges aren’t guilt.

If the priority is getting Santos out of Congress, then the Ethics Committee should have formally urged his expulsion. That they didn’t does make a difference. The members seeking his ouster (led by other New Yorkers) have already tried twice to get the two-thirds majority and they may succeed the next time. But they need to remember that they write the laws for the nation and doing it exactly right is very important.

Having Santos found guilty by the courts or the Ethics Committee should be the standard.

We don’t want this guy disgracing the already disgraceful Congress any longer than he has, but there can’t be any shortcuts. The House has only ever expelled five members: three traitors from the South who took up with the Confederacy against the Union when the Civil War started in 1861 and a pair of criminals following their convictions on felony charges in federal court in 1980 and 2002.

Santos is a liar and a lousy bum and is likely to be nailed for his many offenses, but it hasn’t happened yet. Even for such a terrible man, you still have to follow the rules to kick him out, just like you would for everyone else.