Embattled Rep. George Santos Friday was hit with a new move to expel him from Congress after a damning ethics report detailed improper spending of campaign funds and other wrongdoing.
The Long Island Republican will face a fresh expulsion vote later this month after Rep. Michael Guest, R-Mississippi, chair of the ethics committee, introduced a new measure to oust him over the shocking allegations.
“The most appropriate punishment is expulsion,” Guest said in a statement.
Several lawmakers who didn’t support previous moves to expel Santos now say they will support the measure, making it less likely Santos can politically survive for much longer.
Still, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson is waffling on expulsion even after the release of the report and has not said if leadership will support or oppose it.
Republicans need every vote they can get in the nearly evenly divided chamber, a scenario that could allow Santos to win enough support to keep his seat for now.
A two-thirds vote is needed to expel him, meaning about half of GOP lawmakers would likely have to back the move if almost all Democrats support it as expected. A special election will be triggered for Santos’ seat should he be expelled.
After the report was released, Santos announced he would not run for reelection.
Santos has already been indicted on 23 federal criminal counts and faces a trial next year. He insists he’s innocent but hasn’t offered any defense other than pointing to his “immaturity” and “insecurity.”
The panel said that Santos knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission, and used campaign funds for personal purposes.
“Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” said the 56-page report, which was unanimously backed by the bipartisan panel.
Santos, who has portrayed himself as a trailblazing gay conservative, splurged on botox treatments, luxury goods, luxury trips to Atlantic City and the Hamptons, and OnlyFans, a site used by pornography stars.
Johnson said through a spokesman that he has reviewed the report “and it’s very troubling findings.” but took no stand on expulsion.
A previous expulsion vote failed by a 179-213 vote, well short of the needed two-thirds support. Most Republicans opposed it, with many citing the ethics probe that was pending at the time.
A significant group of Democrats also voted against booting Santos, with some expressing uneasiness about expelling him before a jury would find Santos guilty.
At least 12 Republicans who voted against expelling previously, including Staten Island Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and Long Island Rep. Andrew Garbarino, an ethics committee member, now say they will support the new expulsion measure, CNN reported.
Santos shocked the political world when he won the NY-03 seat in the midterms, capping a remarkable red wave of GOP wins in the Empire State. Democrats would be favored to take back the seat in any special election if he quits or is removed from office.