George Santos’ colleagues in the House could end up being the final arbiters of judgment for the scandal-ridden New York Republican.
Despite wave after wave of revelations surrounding his past and present fictions and lies, the embattled congressman has remained adamant that he will remain in office. Even in the face of members of his own party calling for his ouster, Mr. Santos stood firm.
But none of that matters if the machinations of the US House of Representatives are conspiring against him.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy left the door open to that possibility Tuesday during a press conference outside his new office on Capitol Hill.
Speaking to reporters, he said he would personally take no action against Mr. Santos while suggesting that he would not oppose any actions suggested by the House Ethics Committee.
“If somehow when we go through ethics and he broke the law, we will fire him,” McCarthy told reporters. “But that’s not my role. I believe in the rule of law.
But here’s where it gets tricky: The House Ethics Committee is not an independent arbiter of truth and justice. It is a committee, like any other in the House, made up of members from both parties. However, unlike political committees such as those dealing with foreign policy or the armed forces, the ethics committee has the unique ability to scrutinize other members of the House of Representatives (to some extent) while retaining the ability to recommend more serious sanctions which may be adopted by the full chamber.
And the members talk. Specifically, individuals from specific factions speak, which means there is no action the Ethics Committee will take that does not have the de facto blessing of the Republican majority. Like all other committees, Republicans hold the majority of seats on the ethics committee, which since this month has been chaired by Mississippi congressman and known ally of President Kevin McCarthy, Michael Guest.
If the ethics committee took action against Mr. Santos, it’s safe to say it would be done with the support of the GOP leadership, including the Speaker of the House.
At present, there is little reason to expect Mr. Santos to be expelled from Congress altogether. He faces the possibility of an ethics committee investigation following the request for such an investigation by two New York lawmakers, Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres, but the allegations they make (dishonesty over his track record during his 2022 run) should not amount to a total expulsion. The chamber is more likely to vote to censure him, although even that action is questionable given the single-digit Republican majority chaired by Mr McCarthy.
That could change, however, if a review of Mr. Santos’ financial background, and in particular his campaign contributions, reveals wrongdoing. Political booklet and other publications have already noted a number of questionable items in the filings, including a large amount of donations just a hair under the $200 threshold, as well as two loans to his campaign reclassified as they came from. previously from his personal funds.
He is also under investigation by state and federal authorities, who are investigating the long list of lies he has admitted to or been caught telling about his background.
If the ethics committee recommended expulsion, Mr. Santos would only be removed if two-thirds of the House voted in favor of such action. It’s theoretically possible, but much more likely that the beleaguered congressman will take the busier road: resignation.
Expulsion from Congress was carried out only a handful of times by the lower house, the lion’s share of which stemmed from cases that arose during the Civil War or shortly after.
In recent years, members have chosen to resign when it became clear that the House or law enforcement authorities were preparing to take action.
One of the most famous recent examples is Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican who resigned in 2015 after facing scrutiny for overspending with taxpayers’ money and campaign donations. .
The Independent Gt