(Bloomberg) -- The job at Goldman Sachs he never had. The college degrees he never got. Even the volleyball team he never played on. 

A year after George Santos was elected to US Congress — and was promptly revealed to be a serial fabulist, possibly worse — his colleagues finally did on Friday what so many had been urging for nearly a year: They kicked him out.

The only real surprise was that it took so long. 

The House voted 311-114 to remove Santos, surpassing the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution to oust a member of Congress. It was critics’ third try to expel Santos, with many Republicans who had previously blocked the move switching sides after an Ethics Committee investigation last month substantiated new allegations of theft and deceit. 

Santos left the chamber before the vote concluded. Asked his reaction on the way out, he responded, “It’s over. What reaction?”

Read More: How and Why Congress Expels a Member, Like Santos: QuickTake

The developments cap an extraordinary 12 months during which one salacious revelation after another — from the fictitious resume to past criminal trouble in Brazil to the allegations of misuse of campaign money — turned Santos into an unlikely national figure and the butt of jokes on late-night TV.

 

Santos’ departure creates an open seat in a Democratic-leaning Long Island district and erodes the narrow Republican majority in the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson will have one fewer dependable vote. The speaker, who voted against expulsion, now can’t afford to lose more than three GOP members on a party-line vote.

Johnson’s top lieutenants — including Steve Scalise, Tom Emmer and Elise Stefanik — also voted against expelling Santos. But 105 Republicans — nearly half the party — ultimately joined most Democrats to oust the indicted New Yorker.

“This was an issue of moral clarity,” New York Republican Mike Lawler said. “He was unfit to serve.”

Voters in northeast Queens and northern Nassau County will fill the seat by a special election in a district that President Joe Biden won by eight percentage points. 

Santos’ expulsion marks the climax of a political saga that raised questions about how a serial fabricator of tall tales could get elected to federal office with little vetting by political parties or the media. 

“Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” the House Ethics Committee’s report concluded. “And he sustained all of this through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience.”

Before his many lies were exposed, the 35-year-old from Queens was considered a rising star in the Republican party — someone who could transcend what he called an “old White man’s party” to appeal to Black and Latino voters.

The son of Brazilian immigrants, George Anthony Devolder Santos — he used different variations of those names over the years — said he was “the full embodiment of the American dream.” His business background was a large part of his pitch to voters, telling Bloomberg News before the election that he had dealt with “billions and billions on spreadsheets” during a career in finance and could help balance the federal budget and curb inflation.

Read more: Santos Said Wall Street Roles Were ‘Nothing Super Ooh-La-La’

He won election in 2022 as part of a Republican wave that swept over New York and helped tip the House into GOP hands. 

Within weeks, his claims to have worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup crumbled under scrutiny, and soon the rest of his resume began to unravel as well. He never graduated from Baruch College — much less played on its championship volleyball team. His mother did not die in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The Jewish identity he espoused on the campaign trail turned out to be, in his words, merely “Jew-ish.” And he was not a producer of the Broadway musical Spiderman.

Court records in Brazil, uncovered by The New York Times, did show Santos was criminally charged with using a stolen checkbook to buy shoes and clothing at a shop in 2008.

It was alleged financial wrongdoing in the US that brought legal peril. In a 23-count indictment, federal prosecutors said he solicited contributions to a shell company that operated as an illegal super-PAC, and then used the money to subsidize a lavish lifestyle. They also said he claimed unemployment benefits he was not entitled to and failed to disclose sources of income on House ethics forms.

Two campaign aides — his campaign treasurer and a fundraiser — have already pleaded guilty. Santos faces a trial next September. 

Despite his critical votes backing the Republican leadership in the House, Santos was largely treated as a pariah in Congress. News coverage often showed him sitting alone in the House chamber or dodging reporters in the hallway outside his office. He survived expulsion from the chamber twice, but confronted another effort to remove him after the latest revelations — including that he used campaign funds to finance a Las Vegas honeymoon, Botox treatments, a $4,127 bill at Hermes and purchases on websites associated with pornography.  

Santos sponsored more than 30 bills — only one of which received a single co-sponsor — and Republican officials in his district encouraged constituents to deal with neighboring members of Congress instead of with him. He was one of the most prolific speakers under a House rule that allows members to speak for one minute every morning on any topic, a tactic popularized in the 1990s by another disgraced congressman, Jim Traficant of Ohio. And he remained active on social media, sparring with his critics and protesting his indictment with Donald Trump-like tweets of “WITCH HUNT!”  

Next Steps

New York Governor Kathy Hochul will now call a special election within the next three months. New York doesn’t hold primary elections for special elections. Instead, party committees will nominate candidates to fill the vacancy. 

Santos’ problems have already attracted more than a dozen who have filed to run in the November 2024 election, including former Democratic Representative Tom Suozzi, and former JPMorgan Chase & Co. vice president Kellen Curry, a Republican. (JPMorgan has confirmed that Curry did, in fact, work on Wall Street.)

The Long Island district is one of the wealthiest in the US, and also has some of the largest and oldest houses. It’s one of the districts most impacted by the limit on state and local tax deductions imposed as part of the Republican-backed 2018 tax law, and opposition to the limit has been a bipartisan rallying point for local legislators including Santos. 

--With assistance from Jack Fitzpatrick and Erik Wasson.

(Updates with chart. An earlier version of the story corrected georgraphical description of Santos’s district)

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