2 area representatives voted to expel embattled Rep. George Santos, 3 others wanted him to stay in office

In a historic moment, the House voted on Friday to expel Republican Rep. George Santos of New York after a critical ethics report on his conduct that accused him of converting campaign donations for his own use. He was just the sixth member in the chamber’s history to be ousted by colleagues.

The vote to expel was 311-114, and there were Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia representatives on both sides of the final bipartisan tally.

Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter and Florida Rep. John Rutherford, both Republicans, were two of the local lawmakers who voted to oust the embattled Santos.

“I believe we have a duty and a responsibility to the American public to uphold the integrity of this institution and hold a rulebreaker accountable,” Rutherford wrote in a statement. “Rep. Santos is entitled to due process in his criminal prosecution and will have his day in court. As a Member of the House, however, he must be held accountable to the highest standards of conduct in order to safeguard the public’s faith in this institution.”

Rutherford, the former sheriff of Jacksonville, said he served on the Ethics Committee’s Investigative Subcommittee (ISC) that launched an investigation into Santos. He said substantial evidence showed that “Santos knowingly and repeatedly violated federal laws and House Rules, including filing false and incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission, misusing campaign funds for personal purposes, engaging in fraudulent conduct in connection with RedStone Strategies LLC, and violating the Ethics in Government Act as it relates to his Financial Disclosure Statements filed with the House.”

But three other local representatives voted against expulsion, including Northeast Florida Republican representatives Aaron Bean, Kat Cammack and Michael Waltz.

One hundred and five Republicans voted to expel Santos while 112 voted against it. Just two Democrats voted against expulsion while 206 voted for it.

Of the previous expulsions in the House, three were for disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. The remaining two occurred after the lawmakers were convicted of crimes in federal court. Santos made his case for remaining in office by appealing directly to lawmakers who worry they are setting a new precedent that could make expulsions more common.

Johnson was among those who voiced concerns about removing Santos, though he has told members to vote their conscience. Others in leadership agreed with his reasoning and opposed expulsion. But some Republicans, including Santos’ colleagues from New York, said voters would welcome lawmakers being held to a higher standard.

“I’m pretty confident the American people would applaud that. I’m pretty confident that the American people expect that,” Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, whose district adjoins Santos’, said before the vote.

Santos warned lawmakers they would regret removing a member before they have had their day in court.

“This will haunt them in the future where mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from office when duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts,” Santos said.

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