You could believe that Congress is the wrong place for a criminally charged known liar like newly sworn-in Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). But you’d be mistaken.
Santos hasn’t been charged in the US yet, but that could happen shortly as he recently had check-fraud accusations brought up in Brazil. The Federal Election Commission has received a complaint from a nonpartisan watchdog group accusing Santos of improperly hiding the source of campaign funding and using donor money to pay his own rent. Additionally, it appears that the Santos campaign overspent on hotel stays, rental cars, and plane trips. A penny short of the $200 level that necessitates receipts, dozens of $199.99-logged purchases on disclosure forms suggest potential breaches. If that wasn’t terrible enough, Santos recently came under fire for allegedly stealing $3,000 from a GoFundMe account put up for a sick puppy in Queens, New York.
Santos would be wheeled out to the curb on trash day if he worked somewhere else. But if you’re accused of breaking the law, Congress is a terrific location to hang out and be paid. Even if it would be wonderful to place the responsibility for Santos’ actions on Donald Trump, who while in office condoned lying and illegal behaviour, you can’t. Congress has a long history of ignoring misconduct by its members. Since 1980, more than twenty members of the House and Senate have faced criminal charges, most frequently for taking bribes. Most times, accused members remain silent throughout their legal proceedings and, if found guilty, resign (or decline to run for reelection). But they are not required to leave. No federal law or House rule requires a legislator to resign from Congress if they are charged with or found guilty of a felony, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis from 2014. Only two guilty members of the House have been expelled in contemporary times: Jim Traficant of Ohio and Michael Myers of Pennsylvania. Expulsion needs a two-thirds vote of the House.
Santos would correctly conclude that Congress is the greatest place for him to relax for the ensuing two years if he had looked at the historical record, which you can bet he has. possibly even beyond. AWN’s Olivia Beavers reported at the end of December that Santos had informed New York party leaders that he wouldn’t run for reelection in 2024. However, he resisted calls for his resignation last Friday by saying he might seek retribution by running again. Why then wouldn’t he remain seated or try running again? With five years of federal employment, a good pension is included in the $174,000 annual salary of the position. A House seat also gives him the power to direct all of those staff members. Additionally, remember franking privileges!
Normal circumstances would see all Republicans turn their backs on Santos because of his flagrant resume inflating and other lies. But this is not the norm right now. Every vote, even a liar’s vote, counts given the party’s tenuous majority. Santos voted for Speaker Kevin McCarthy on all 15 ballots in the campaign for the speaker, which was a good move on his part. As a result of his allegiance, Santos has been appointed to the Small Business and Science, Space, and Technology committees in Congress. Santos is rumoured to hold sought-after positions in finance and foreign policy, but it doesn’t really matter. He can always say that he received those committees on his resume. Santos will continue to be a positive legislative tool for the Republican leadership as long as they can trust on him to vote along party lines.
Republicans from New York state have criticised Santos because he casts a negative light on them, but the situation is different in the House. Only a small number of Republican politicians have called for his resignation thus far because if he did, his constituency may easily switch parties, reducing the minuscule Republican majority.
“I refuse to step down!” Last week, Santos tweeted. This stance is more pragmatic than it is ethical. Cradling his seat might give him some power in a plea deal if and when federal prosecutors show up, as Ben Jacobs reported in Vox. Vice President Spiro Agnew avoided jail time in 1973 by entering a plea deal. Santos could believe that giving up his seat in Congress will only result in him spending more time behind bars. How significant is Santos’ criminal responsibility is the sole query that needs an immediate response. Could his crimes be so numerous and easily substantiated that the feds decide not to negotiate with him?
Santos is the only option we have for the time being. The best job he’s ever held was in Congress, according to him. Republicans require him. Additionally, Congressmen cannot be expelled. He’s toast in the long run though.