GOP-Controlled House Removes Santos Without Conviction; Democrats Menendez and Rangel Escape Consequences

As per House and Senate regulations, expelling a congressional member necessitates a two-thirds majority vote in either chamber.

The GOP-controlled House took an unprecedented step on Capitol Hill by ousting Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., without a criminal conviction.

In contrast, despite Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., facing bribery charges, Democrats haven’t pressed for his resignation. Menendez vows to continue serving, grappling with legal challenges and avoiding expulsion.

Notably, over $480,000 in cash, concealed in envelopes, clothing, and a safe, was found at Menendez’s residence. Despite reporting a 2018 federal income of $170,985, encompassing Senate salary and property rents in Union City, N.J., Menendez remains mired in controversy.

Senator John Fetterman, D-Pa., underscored the Senate’s imperative for action, urging the removal of Menendez over alleged misconduct. Yet, given the Democrats’ slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, no significant steps have been taken.

“The more important picture is that we have a colleague in the Senate that actually did much more sinister kinds of things.”

“Senator Menendez needs to go, and if you are going to expel Santos, how can you allow somebody like Menendez to remain in the Senate?” Fetterman asked.

Prior to Santos’ removal, the expulsion of U.S. lawmakers typically occurred post-convictions or due to Confederacy service during the Civil War, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Santos confessed to fabricating a significant portion of his resume during the 2022 midterm election and faced federal charges, including wire and credit card fraud related to campaign contributions, indicted in October of this year.

The Ethics Committee investigation revealed Santos’ misuse of campaign funds for personal expenses and involvement in fraudulent conduct with RedStone Strategies LLC.

With Santos’ expulsion, the House Republicans now maintain a slim 221-213 majority, a result of a 311 to 114 vote where 105 Republicans joined 206 Democrats in expelling him. Only 2 Democrats voted against his expulsion.

Expressing astonishment at the passage of the expulsion, Naysa Woomer, Santos’s former communications director, acknowledged the disappointment felt by some while emphasizing the triumph of integrity. She foresees potential electoral advantages for House Republicans in the foreseeable future.

“I am sure there are people that are very disappointed with the situation but having worked for him personally, I believe that integrity won today. This will obviously be a very even slimmer majority for a short term,” she said on the Just the News Not Noise TV program. “But in the long term, I think this will actually be a greater benefit to House Republicans as we go into the 2024 election cycle.”

Republicans in disagreement contended that removing a legislator without a criminal conviction might set an unsound precedent. Representative Andy Harris, R-Md., opposed the resolution, referencing historical precedent following the Civil War.

“I voted no on the resolution to expel Congressman George Santos because after the Civil War, only two members have been expelled – and both had been convicted, not just indicted,” said Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md. “We shouldn’t set a dangerous new precedent for expulsion being based on indictment alone.”

Drawing attention to Menendez’s case, Woomer proposed a comparable process for accountability within the Senate. She advocated for a transparent investigation, echoing the thoroughness of the Ethics Committee review conducted for Santos.

“Senator Menendez does not deserve to be in the Senate either and I hope what happened today actually does serve as a great example for the Senate to put through the same type of process, that former Congressman George Santos had been through,” she said.

She also pointed to Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., who encountered a misdemeanor for triggering a fire alarm at the Capitol without facing censure or expulsion. Woomer urged House Democrats to follow suit, proposing the expulsion of Santos by Republicans as a benchmark.

“Chairman Guest and the Committee on House Ethics had put through a very thorough and transparent investigation into the former congressman, and the Senate should be doing the exact same thing. So I do hope that they hold Menendez equally as accountable as George Santos,” she added.

Citing precedents, instances like Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., being found guilty of 11 ethics violations in 2010 but receiving censure instead of expulsion, and Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., resigning amid an ethics investigation in 2012, were noted where expulsion did not take place despite allegations of misconduct.