The U.S. House of Representatives voted to remove Republican Congressman George Santos of New York on Friday.
The House voted 311 to 114 to immediately remove Santos. A two-thirds majority is required to expel a member from the House. Santos became just the sixth member to be removed in the history of the United States. Three lawmakers were removed for disloyalty during the U.S. Civil War. And two were removed after being found guilty of crimes in federal court.
The vote to remove Santos came after a House ethics report accused him of defrauding donors and using campaign money for his personal use. The 56-page report contained “overwhelming evidence” of lawbreaking, violations of ethics and “misstatements” during his 2022 campaign.
A long record of wrongdoing
The 35-year-old Santos has been accused of wrongdoing since he was first elected to Congress in November 2022.
Santos admitted that he made up his life story following several newspaper reports. He falsely claimed that his grandparents were Jewish and that they escaped the Holocaust. But his mother’s immigration record said they were born in Brazil.
Santos claimed that his family owns and collects rent money on 13 properties. There are no records of Santos or his family ever owning any property. And Santos himself has been brought to court repeatedly for not paying rent.
Newspaper reports discovered that Santos also lied about his education at New York University, his work history with financial companies Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and his involvement in a check fraud case in Brazil. There were no records of Santos ever going to college or working at the companies. Santos later admitted to the crime and paid money in the case in Brazil.
He is currently facing federal criminal charges including stealing public money, misuse of campaign money, credit card fraud and making false statements. Santos has pleaded not guilty to those charges. But two former campaign aides have pleaded guilty to related charges.
A bipartisan congressional investigation last month found that he used congressional campaign money to pay for almost $4,000 in spa treatments, including Botox, a kind of beauty injection. He also spent more than $4,000 of campaign money on luxury goods and made "smaller purchases" from OnlyFans, an online website known for sexual material.
Santos rejected repeated calls for him to resign. Before the House vote to remove him, Santos said, “The people of the Third District of New York sent me here. If they want me out, you’re going to have to go silence those people and go take the hard vote.”
His expulsion will shrink the Republican’s narrow majority. And New York State Governor Kathy Hochul of the Democratic Party now has 10 days to call a special election for the seat representing part of Long Island.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Hai Do adapted this report for VOA Learning English from Associated Press and Reuters sources.
Words in This Story
defraud –v. to trick or cheat someone to get their money
overwhelming –adj. in great numbers
rent –n. a regular payment for the use of property such as the use of a place to live like an apartment or home
spa –n. a business where people go to improve their health, appearance, receive beauty treatments or relax
luxury –n. something that is costly and not necessary
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