George Santos and the Character of Congress

Elections and Politics Policy Brief #62 | By: Maureen Darby-Serson | February 9th, 2023

Header photo taken from: Reuters

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Many Congress members have called for Santos to resign and House rules state that a member can be expelled with the agreement of two-thirds of those present and voting.

Photo taken from: Haiyun Jiang / The New York Times, New York Post

Policy Summary

George Santos, elected to the House of Representative through an upset in a New York seat, has been at the center of several scandals since the election. What first became a question of his resume soon turned into legal questions about where campaign finances came from.

Santos first became under fire when news outlets were unable to confirm his educational and employment background. The college he had claimed to have graduated from and the financial firms he claimed to work for stated they had no record of him being there.

Lying issues soon became legal issues as questions about a 2008 Brazilian check fraud case came to light. This case was reopened this year and is pending in court. In addition, Santos was charged with theft in 2017 but the case was later dismissed. He was charged after multiple checks written in his name bounced after he tried to buy dogs from a dog breeder.

This past week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stated the Santos would be referred to the House Ethics Committee. In addition, Democrats introduced a resolution to expel Santos from the House of Representatives.

Policy Analysis

What does this mean for Santos, politics, and the Democrats? George Santos is under a lot of pressure, both politically and legally. While he needs to tread lightly, he continues to stand up for his claims and states he has not lied. He also says he has not done anything illegal.

Every vote is a key vote for the Republicans in the House. If Santos was to resign or be removed, a special election would likely take place. With his win being such a small margin and the seat being historically Democrat, the Republicans may lose that seat and that vote.

Republicans have been split on the topic of George Santos. Some of them openly criticize him and callfor his removal while others have backed him. If Sanstos survives as a Representatve his character will be anotherv stain on the character of Congress.


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Santos declared last month that “he wouldn’t resign until the 142,000 people who elected him tell him to walk away, and said he still plans to run for re-election in 2024.” Regardless, 78% of his constituents want him to resign.

Photo taken from: Brigette Stelzer

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Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on resource URL to visit links where available 

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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/19/nyregion/george-santos-ny-republicans.html

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https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/02/the-everything-guide-to-george-santoss-lies.html

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https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/07/politics/house-ethics-committee-probe-george-santos/index.html

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