Congressman-elect George Anthony Devoldor-Santos lied. Media pounced and piled more on.
Meanwhile, the everyday theft and lies coming from our other elected officials gets little or no attention.
He should come clean, and serve his constituents. I personally believe that he will work hard to earn voters’ trust. His fate should be decided in 2024 by his voters.
What’s next? Santos can’t be blocked from being sworn in because a 1969 Supreme Court case, Powell v. McCormack, limited the grounds on which representatives-elect can be denied seating. Under this ruling, representatives-elect can be denied seating only if they fail to meet one of the constitutional requirements for serving in Congress: age, citizenship and residency. (In this scenario, it would require a simple-majority vote to block seating.) None of these three factors appears to be problematic in Santos’ case. Expulsion is conceivable, but would require a two-thirds vote of the House.
Only five House members have been expelled in history, according to the Congressional Research Service. The most recent expulsion came in 2002, when Rep. James Traficant, a renegade Democrat from Ohio, was convicted of 10 corruption-related charges.
Santos could remain in the House, but face an ethics investigation. The House Ethics Committee, which is evenly divided between the parties, could launch an investigation and levy a punishment, but it could not carry out expulsion on its own. It could recommend expulsion, but the full House would have to provide two-thirds support in a vote. It could also provide lesser punishments, such as censure, reprimand or a fine.
House leaders could withhold privileges. Beyond an Ethics Committee sanction, Republicans could deny Santos committee seats or other perks of office.
Under the House Vacancy Claus in the U.S. Constitution, states have “Executive Authority” to hold a special election if a seat in the House becomes vacant. Each state can determine its own timing and circumstances of the election. In the state of New York, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul would have 10 days to call a special election to replace Santos, which would have to be held between 70 to 80 days from the date of that proclamation — if Santos resigns this year, during the first session of a Congress.
If Santos resigns during the second session of Congress, the amount of time between the vacancy and the next general election would play a role.