Controversial Republican politician George Santos has been expelled from the US House of Representatives in a vote supported by members of both parties in the chamber.
Mr Santos had survived two earlier attempts to eject him from the US Congress, but the tide turned against him after the release of a damning ethics committee report. Investigators working for the committee maintained Mr Santos stole money from his campaign, deceived donors, reported fictitious loans and engaged in fraudulent business dealings.
The report said the congressman had spent large sums of campaign money for his personal benefit including during visits to casinos and spas, while shopping in luxury stores and on payments to a subscription site that contains adult content.
Separately Mr Santos faces more than 20 federal criminal charges including that he used money from donors for his personal benefit. The congressman is pleading not guilty to these charges.
Mr Santos had been a figure of considerable controversy in US politics almost since his election in November last year. It emerged shortly after the vote that he had fabricated large parts of his personal history and curriculum vitae. He made false claims about his education and about previously having a career in finance with Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.
He claimed a Jewish heritage and that his family had fled from Ukraine to Brazil during the second World War, although some genealogists retained by US media outlets subsequently said they could find no such connections.
Mr Santos also maintained that his mother had survived the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York although there were later indications that she was in Brazil at the time.
Mr Santos is only the sixth member of the House of Representatives to be expelled from Congress. Three representatives were removed on treason charges at the start of the civil war. Two others were expelled after being convicted in court.
Mr Santos’s removal from the House comes before the criminal proceedings against him have been completed, which has caused concern among some Republicans that it could represent a dangerous precedent.
Mr Santos was among a number of Republicans who won seats in New York against the odds in the 2022 midterm elections. A number of the New York Republican delegation, however, very much wanted him removed, fearful he could damage the party in elections next November.
The expulsion of Mr Santos means Republicans now have a majority of only three votes in the House.
The new Republican speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, opposed the move to expel Mr Santos, which was passed by 311-114 votes, surpassing the two-thirds majority required. More than 100 Republicans joined with most Democrats to oust Mr Santos.
In an influential development on Friday morning Republican congressman Max Miller sent a letter to colleagues saying the Santos campaign had charged his and his mother’s credit card for contributions that neither of them had approved and that were above the legal limit.
There will now be a byelection to fill the seat in the House of Representatives vacated by the removal of Mr Santos.
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