Rep. Mark Alford said he isn’t ready to expel Rep. George Santos from the House after federal prosecutors brought 13 charges against the scandal-plagued Republican for wire fraud, lying to Congress and theft of public money.
“This needs to go before the Ethics Committee,” Alford, a freshman Missouri Republican, said after Democrats filed a resolution to expel Santos, a freshman New York Republican, from the House. “Of course, it’s before the judicial system in New York right now. Let it take its course.”
Santos’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The House on Wednesday voted 221-204, with seven Democrats voting present, to send the resolution to the Ethics Committee — where there is already a pending case against Santos — delaying an expulsion vote that would narrow the Republican Party’s already slim majority in the chamber. Most Democrats voted against the motion, hoping to expel Santos outright.
It takes the support of two-thirds of the House in order to expel a member.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, said he was willing to vote against sending the resolution to the Ethics Committee, where it is unlikely to be acted upon in the near future, but that he would have struggled whether he would have voted to expel Santos.
“I don’t care how bad a person is, in this country we say due process,” Cleaver said.
Cleaver’s immediate solution would be to just ignore Santos.
“I get the impression that he likes the attention,” Cleaver said. “So I say we just leave him alone.”
Prosecutors allege that Santos ran a scheme where he asked voters to make a donation to a Florida company that would be used to support his candidacy, and then used the money on personal expenses, like luxury clothing. Prosecutors also allege that Santos improperly collected unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic and that he filed false financial disclosure reports with the House.
Even before the charges were brought, Santos had become a punchline around Washington as lawmakers made cracks at the New Yorker’s tendency to wildly inflate his resume.
Santos has been caught claiming he was Jewish (though he later said he was joking about being “Jew-ish”), that he graduated from Baruch College and NYU, that he went to Baruch on a volleyball scholarship, that his grandparents survived the Holocaust, that the Sept. 11 attacks killed his mom, that he worked at Goldman Sachs and that he founded a pet charity. He also claimed to be a producer on “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” which had music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge and is widely known as a disaster by the musical theater community.
Alford, a Missouri Republican, and Santos, a New York Republican, were both elected to Congress last fall. Alford said he was surprised there was not better opposition research on Santos before he was elected, saying he trusted voters to make a decision.
“I feel bad for the New York contingency they’re, you know, saddled with his whatever he did or didn’t do,” Alford said. “Whatever lies he told her didn’t tell. So I feel for them. I hate it that we got started in our Congress and this came right out of the gate.”
HOW THEY VOTED
A yes vote refers a resolution to expel Rep. George Santos, a New York Republican, to the House Ethics Committee.
Rep. Tracey Mann — Yes
Rep. Jake LaTurner — Yes
Rep. Sharice Davids — No
Rep. Ron Estes — Yes
Rep. Cori Bush — No
Rep. Ann Wagner — Yes
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer — Yes
Rep. Mark Alford — Yes
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver — No
Rep. Sam Graves — Yes
Rep. Eric Burlison — Yes
Rep. Jason Smith —Yes