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U.S. Rep. Ron Estes: Indicted New York GOP lawmaker should have resigned before forced out

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U.S. Rep. Ron Estes: Indicted New York GOP lawmaker should have resigned before forced out

Dec 02, 2023 | 10:33 pm ET
By Tim Carpenter
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U.S. Rep. Ron Estes: Indicted New York GOP lawmaker should have resigned before forced out
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U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, a Kansas Republican, joined three other members of the state's congressional delegation to vote for ouster of ethically challenged New York Republican Rep. George Santos. (Kansas Reflector screen capture of U.S. House's YouTube channel)

TOPEKA — The Kansas congressional delegation flipped on the question of ousting truth-challenged U.S. Rep. George Santos by voting to expel the Republican one month after voting against forcibly removing him from office.

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, who has served the 4th District of Kansas in the House since 2017, said representing voters in Washington, D.C., was a privilege that could be withdrawn for improper conduct.

“The now-former Representative George Santos’ actions were not only unbecoming of a member of Congress, but the facts reported by the ethics committee point to numerous violations of House rules and federal law, rendering him unfit to serve in this distinguished institution,” Estes said.

He said Santos should have chosen the honorable path by voluntarily stepping down from Congress. He said the bipartisan vote to remove Santos meant New York voters would have an opportunity to choose a replacement.

On Nov. 1, Republican Reps. Tracey Mann of the 1st District, Jake LaTurner of the 2nd District and Estes joined Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids of the 3rd District in Kansas to vote against an effort to strip Santos of his seat. They were part of a majority unwilling at that time to terminate the freshman’s tenure in Congress despite a series of fraud-related federal charges.

The House Ethics Committee released a damaging report in mid-November that concluded Santos sought to “fraudulently exploit” his candidacy for a New York seat in the House. Santos tried to placate colleagues by announcing he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2024, but turned aside demands for his resignation.

That prompted the 311-114 vote Friday rendering Santos the first Republican and sixth member expelled from the House. All four members of the Kansas delegation — Mann, LaTurner, Estes and Davids — voted for expulsion.

The Kansas lawmakers may have helped set a disciplinary precedent in the House because the five previous members removed from office had either been convicted of federal crimes or had supported the Confederacy in the Civil War.