The U.S. House of Representatives expelled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) on Dec. 1. Santos, who repeatedly claimed to be Jewish during his campaign late last year, faces criminal fraud charges following revelations that he fabricated much of his life story, including his supposed Jewish ancestry.
A freshman elected in November 2022, Santos said in a since-deleted passage on his campaign website that his maternal grandparents survived the Holocaust.
“It was an honor to address fellow members of the Jewish community,” Santos posted on social media after attending a Chabad event in Great Neck, N.Y., in the days before the election. That post, from Nov. 3, 2022, remains live on X.
After media reports revealed that his claims to Jewish ancestry and other elements of his backstory appeared to be fictitious, Santos denied having said he was Jewish.
“I never claimed to be Jewish,” he told the New York Post. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
Genealogical records in Brazil, where both of Santos’s parents were born, suggest that his maternal grandparents were Catholics with no connection to the Holocaust.
In addition to his lies about his personal background, Santos has been charged on a 23-count federal indictment that includes conspiracy, identity theft and credit card fraud.
Shortly before the vote on Friday, Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) wrote in an email to the entire House Republican caucus that he and his mother had personally been victims of Santos’s campaign contribution credit card fraud.
“You, sir, are a crook,” Miller said on the House floor on Thursday, alluding to the theft. (Miller is Jewish.)
Despite House Republican leadership voting against expulsion, 105 Republicans voted with nearly every House Democrat to reach the two-thirds majority required to expel Santos from the House.
The expulsion clause of the Constitution grants the House and Senate broad authority to expel any sitting member with a two-thirds majority in their respective chamber. Many Republicans who voted against expulsion said that they believed that under House precedent, Santos should be convicted in a court of law before his removal.
Santos became just the sixth member of the House in U.S. history to be expelled from the House, and the first who was not a Confederate or a convicted felon, per the Congressional Research Service.
In 1861, House members John Clark, John Reid and Henry Burnett were expelled for “disloyalty to the Union.” Michael Myers was expelled in 1980 for “bribery, conspiracy and Travel Act violations” (the ABSCAM conspiracy) and James Traficant was expelled in 2002 for “illegal gratuity, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, defrauding the government, racketeering and tax-evasion violations.”
Following the development, New York’s 3rd Congressional district is now vacant and will proceed to a special election.
Democratic and Republican party county leaders in the 3rd district will choose the nominees for the special election in consultation with state and national leadership. While Santos announced in November that he would not seek re-election in 2024, he could run in the special election as an independent.