New York City and state pols react to George Santos’ expulsion

George Santos before crowd of reporters
Former Rep. George Santos (R-NY) departs the United States Capitol after the House voted to expel Santos from Congress. Santos is the sixth member of the House to be expelled in the body’s history.
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

As George Santos became only the sixth member of Congress to be expelled by his colleagues Friday morning, officials across New York City and state reacted to the controversial lawmaker’s dramatic downfall.

Santos, who represents parts of eastern Queens and Nassau County, was formally booted from Congress Dec. 1 by a 311-to-114 vote — 290 votes were needed to oust him. The freshman Congress member became infamous shortly after defeating his Democratic rival in an upset victory last year when a New York Times investigation revealed that he had invented much of his personal backstory.

The successful Santos expulsion, which came after two previous failed attempts to rid Congress of the member, followed the release of a long-anticipated House Ethics Committee investigation into Santos last month. The report found that Santos had likely committed numerous federal crimes related to using campaign funds for personal expenses, like botox, designer clothing and the adult content website OnlyFans.

On top of that, Santos has also been hit with two federal indictments, totaling 23 criminal charges, for defrauding voters, money laundering and falsifying campaign finance information. 

‘Congress won today’

Rep. Dan Goldman speaks at a news conference in front of the African Burial Ground Memorial in lower Manhattan on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023.Photo by Paul Frangipane

U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn), who has been one of Santos’ most frequent critics from across the aisle, said Santos getting kicked out of Congress is a win for New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

“The Congress of the United States won today. But more importantly, the people of NY-03 will now have a real representative in the House,” Goldman said, in a statement.

But Goldman also took aim at the Republicans, including upstate Rep. Elise Stefanik, who voted against expelling Santos. Republican leadership has long defended Santos as a means of holding onto their razor-thin House majority.

“For 11 months, House Republicans wrapped their arms around an admitted fraudster, liar, and thief,” Goldman said. “For the sole reason of protecting their narrow majority, Republican leadership abandoned the people of New York’s Third Congressional District, leaving them without real representation in Congress. Even today, in the face of mountains of evidence proving George Santos’ gross misconduct, deceptions and outright fraud, Republican leadership, including New York Representative Elise Stefanik, and more than half of House Republicans voted to keep George Santos in Congress.”

But it wasn’t just Democrats stressing the urgency of getting Santos off of Capitol Hill. 

‘We have to take action and remove him’

Staten Island and south Brooklyn Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, one of the 105 Republicans who voted to show Santos the door, posted a video before the vote on social media explaining that the findings of the House ethics investigation motivated her to finally vote for expelling her colleague.

“We have to take action and remove him,” she said. “Now he will have his day in court as it relates to the criminal charges, but in terms of being able to continue his service in Congress, we believe we have seen enough and that he does not merit to continue serving in this body and his constituents do deserve better.”

With Santos expelled, Gov. Kathy Hochul has 10 days to call a special election to fill his vacant seat. The election must take place 60 to 70 days later.

The governor, during an interview on NY1 following Friday’s vote, said her “number one job” is helping choose a strong Democratic candidate in the special election who can win and ultimately help Democrats retake the House and make Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) the next speaker.

“We have to get a good quality candidate, someone that’s a strong fighter for Long Island [and Queens] and that’s who I’ll be looking for,” Hochul said. “We get someone who can win the election. Someone who has no background to be concerned about, that’s important to me. Especially after what we saw with George Santos. And we’ll get the right person and I believe that Democrats will win. It’ll start the trend of Democrats in New York being responsible for Hakeem Jeffries becoming the next speaker.”

During the interview Hochul also noted that Santos has had an abysmal” run in Congress that she is “glad” he’s gone.

When you look at his lack of ethics and the fact that, you know, he has not served the people of our state, particularly New York 3 where he resides, it’s been an abysmal run for him,” she said. “And he has not done what he has to do for New Yorkers, and I’m glad he’s gone because I need people I can work with to fight for New York, to bring federal money to our state, to create jobs and opportunities. And George Santos just took up space.