George Santos sitting in the House of Representatives is a national crisis.
Generic “Congress” enjoyed a measly 21% approval rating in January 2023 public opinion polls — after a 15 ballot whooping of the new Speaker of the House.
Who — in their right mind — believes the House of Representatives, specifically the GOP House Caucus, can expect their approval rating to improve while George Santos’ ever widening scandals provide fodder for late night TV comics?
78% of George Santos’ NY-03 constituents told pollsters he should resign amid the now more than month-long drip, drip, drip of allegations – lies, exaggerations, and suspected criminality. That number includes 71% of the Republicans in the district.
Voters, also, disapprove of Speaker McCarthy appointing Santos to House Committees: Science, Space and Technology and, especially, the Small Business Committee.
That is the same House Small Business Committee set to investigate fraudulent Paycheck Protection Plan payments amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars.
Only more recently did the Speaker conclude that putting the Con Man on the team charged with investigating the “Con” sent the wrong message.
Can’t Take the Con Out of the Con(gress)man
On the day Santos told an OAN reporter while he lied his way into Congress, he was going to reform and not lie as a member of Congress – he ran from other reporters saying he had “decided to step away from his committee assignments so as not to be a distraction”. A claim refuted by others who attended the GOP Caucus meeting.
Reporters who went to his so-called district office found it unmanned. The former representative’s name still on the door.
Santos’ constituents feel defrauded, and his colleagues embarrassed. Every day brings new revelations of his perfidy.
Why hasn’t George Santos done the honorable thing and resign from Congress?
It’s the paycheck. George Santos is enjoying $174,000/YR salary plus expenses, health care, and retirement benefits. The most money the man has ever “earned”, and he is not going to give up until he is forced.
The notoriety, also, attracts Santos like catnip to a cat. The man is utterly shameless.
His unhappy, duped constituents can do nothing about it until November 2026! Not even if he is convicted criminally!
Article One of US Constitution Does Not Provide for Recall of Member of Congress
Article One, Section One of the US Constitution sets out the qualifications to be a member of the House of Representatives as having attained the age of 25, be a resident of the state represented and elected by the voters of that state.
Once elected, the representative cannot be recalled by those same voters. They must wait two years and then vote for another candidate at the next election.
Only three conditions allow for the replacement of a member of the House of Representatives during the two-year term: death, resignation, or expulsion by a vote of 2/3 of the members of the chamber.
The Founding Fathers did consider the issue of recalling a representative during their deliberations and the drafting of the Constitution. In the end, they decided against a recall remedy fearing, after their experience with the Articles of Confederation, “too much democracy” might not serve a positive civic purpose.
Just in case, however, in Section Five of Article One – they did allow for the “expulsion” of a member of the House (or Senate) by a 2/3 vote of the chamber but only “under the Rules of the House”.
Amending the House Rules Solves Problem
The Constitution does not permit the expulsion of a member for illegal or immoral behavior the voters knew of when electing the member to Congress. Expulsion can only happen after an Ethics Investigation found bad behavior the representative had concealed or misrepresented to voters during the election. Referral for such a probe is at the discretion of the Speaker and — to date — Speaker McCarthy has not made such a referral.
This is creating a dangerous precedent. Voters have learned over the last decade one bad act by an elected official that is allowed to stand — leads to two more.
Congress need not wait for commencement of legal proceeding against Mr. Santos or a long and drawn out Ethic Investigation to end this unnecessary distraction from the people’s business.
The House GOP Caucus wrote the House Rules for the 118th Congress only a month ago. Nothing prevents them from amending those rules to impose the same condition of employment on themselves that (New York) state and federal law impose on their constituents.
The Speaker should immediately bring an amendment to the House floor adding to the Rules a simple clause found on every private sector employment application – just above the applicant’s signature. “Any false statements regarding education, special licenses, and/or previous employment (history) are grounds for immediate termination”.
A two-thirds vote to expel Mr. Santos for lying to voters about his personal and professional qualifications to represent them would send a strong signal to other would-be Con(gress)men or women and might just raise Congress’ approval rating a point or two.