The New Normal of Congressional Expulsion
Who you elect doesn't matter if they can remove who represents you
When I think about our U.S. Congress, the last words that would ever come to mind would be “ethics” and “code of conduct”, yet we just witnessed the U.S. House pretend publicly to possess them.
These are people who lie for a living, propagandize, and mislead the public about the opposition party as a standard function yet lying and being deceitful never crosses the threshold of unethical behavior because it’s a feature, not a bug.
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If Congress didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all and there is no better example of their faux bleeding heart for ending corruption than the expulsion of former Rep George Santos.
Promptly afterward, Speaker Mike Johnson announced “Two-thirds voted in the affirmative, the resolution is adopted. The clerk will notify the governor of the state of New York of the action of the House."
Out of the 311 votes to expel Rep Santos, 105 yea votes came from representative members of his party.
“They just set [a] new dangerous precedent for themselves,” lamented Santos about his former House colleagues. “The hell with this place.”
With Santos’ expulsion, he became the 6th member of Congress to be expelled, however, he is the only one to be removed from his seat without a criminal conviction or committed treason.
For the past year, Santos has been battling allegations of lying about his employment resume, where he attended college, and other details about his personal life, to which he has openly admitted that some of those details were embellishments.
However, these lies were used as a pretense to dig into anything Santos may have been involved in, including his campaign finances, causing the Department of Justice to begin an investigation into the claims made about his rumored misappropriation of funds.
As it stands, Santos has a trial date set for September of 2024 and has not been found guilty of anything by the court of law (although it appears the DOJ is pushing for a plea deal to occur). This is not to say he won’t be found guilty but what the House pulled was incredibly abnormal and setting a new standard that can normalize expelling members when politically expedient.
The members of the House want the public to believe that they only sought to expel Santos after the report was released describing his financial improprieties, but they attempted to expel him multiple times prior, they just didn’t have enough political support to carry it out. However, the ethics report gave them the validation to push forward and unify between parties to remove him from his seat.
The moral grandstanding by members of a House that wag their fingers at Santos for his lying about moderately relevant details of his life before entering office place the same fingers inside their ears to drown out the noise from the fire alarm set off by Rep Jamaal Bowman.
Bowman lied for days until being forced to admit that he did pull the fire alarm, even pleading guilty to his actions which disrupted a congressional proceeding, yet this doesn’t cross the threshold of ethical concerns?
The ethics committee wants us to be enamored with George Santos’ alleged corrupt and abnormal behavior for using his campaign funds on Botox but when members of the House routinely use their positions on committees to gather insider information that will benefit them on the stock market, it’s business as usual.
Insider trading is status quo corruption that happens in D.C. and despite the STOCK Act, many routinely violate it and suffer no consequences. In 2022, NY Times analysis confirmed this when they found that 97 lawmakers or their family members bought or sold financial assets over three years in industries that could be affected by their legislative committee work.
House members may not like it, but George Santos was elected by his constituents in his New York district, and removing a representative should have a high bar as it directly goes against what the people he represents wanted.
By the nature of expulsion being rare, it set the precedence of this high bar and whereas previous representatives chose to resign under scandalous circumstances rather than get raked through the coals politically, Santos believes he is innocent and will be vindicated in the legal system.
Much like the House of Representatives has utilized the impeachment process as a partisan broomstick to bludgeon their political rivals and make it easier to sweep them out of power, expulsion will now be readily accessible when either party finds it politically expedient.
If we keep going down this path Congress will rationalize the necessity to pick winners and losers for the American public without a legal conviction, just a conviction of public perception.
I don’t know if Santos did everything that the ethics committee claims he did but what if he is found to be innocent of all allegations by the Department of Justice? Or what if there is a plea deal that doesn’t show guilt of the extent of the accusations made by the Department of Ethics?
Does this matter or were we always striving for this to be the new normal?
I believe that his removal was premeditated and premature for the precedence his removal creates.
Regardless if it was Santos or any other House member, whether I like or dislike them, removing a representative that the people elected should be done with solid footing and not on the shaky ground of accusations drudged up by a politically motivated body.
Will this be the new normal? Could this be the beginning of removing who the people choose to replace with more favorable figures that please the establishment?
Only time will tell but from where I stand, much of Congress, in both parties, could be expelled if the bar is lying about themselves and being a controversial character because that’s all he’s been guilty of thus far.