Vulnerable Dems Voted To Boot George Santos. It’s A Different Story With Their Fellow Democrat Indicted For Bribery

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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Numerous swing district Democratic House members won’t say whether they’d vote to expel recently indicted Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar after having voted to oust indicted Republican New York Rep. George Santos just months ago.

The Department of Justice indicted Cuellar and his wife on May 3 for allegedly accepting $600,000 in bribes from an oil and gas company controlled by the Azerbaijanian government, as well as a bank located in Mexico City. Over a dozen Democrats running for reelection in battleground districts who casted several votes in 2023 to remove Santos from the chamber did not respond to multiple requests for comment about whether they’d do the same to Cuellar.

The members include Democratic Reps. Mike Levin of California, Josh Harder of California, Yadira Caraveo of Colorado, Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, Darren Soto of Florida, Eric Sorensen of Illinois, Frank Mrvan of Indiana, Hillary Scholten of Michigan, Angie Craig of Minnesota, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Gabriel Vasquez of New Mexico, Pat Ryan of New York, Greg Landsman of Ohio, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Emilia Sykes of Ohio, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Val Hoyle of Oregon.

The vulnerable Democrats voted against referring an expulsion resolution introduced by Democratic California Rep. Robert Garcia to the Ethics Committee in May 2023; voted for GOP New York Rep. Anthony D’Esposito’s failed expulsion resolution in November 2023; and voted for Republican Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest‘s successful resolution that removed the indicted member in December 2023.

However, none of these members provided answers to the DCNF as to whether they’d vote to boot Cuellar. (RELATED: Speaker Mike Johnson Says He ‘Couldn’t Block’ George Santos Expulsion)

Cuellar maintains his innocence and said in a statement on May 3 that he intends to seek reelection in November. The congressman’s seat is currently characterized by The Cook Political Report as “Lean Democrat.”

U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) holds a press conference to address efforts to expel him from the House of Representatives, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2023. (REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Santos was first indicted in early May 2023 over alleged wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements to Congress. The Republican was hit with a 23-count superseding indictment in early October related to fraud and conspiracy.

Other swing district Democrats eventually voted to oust Santos after the House Ethics Committee released a report in mid-November, finding “substantial evidence” the Republican broke the law.

Democratic Reps. Sharice Davids of Kansas, Jared Golden of Maine, Steven Horsford of Nevada, Susie Lee of Nevada, Dina Titus of Nevada, Don Davis of North Carolina, Andrea Salinas of Oregon, Chris Deluzio of Pennsylvania and Kim Schrier of Washington opposed sending the first expulsion resolution to the Ethics Committee, while Reps. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington and Kim Schrier of Washington voted “present.”

Davids, Golden, Horsford, Lee, Deluzio, Perez and Schrieron voted against D’Esposito’s effort to oust Santos, with Davis and Wild voting “present.” Titus and Salinas did not vote.

Only one of the other aforementioned Democrats responded to the DCNF’s requests for comment, with Deluzio signaling he wouldn’t support an effort to expel Cuellar unless the Ethics Committee completes a potential investigation.

A spokesperson for Deluzio called the allegations “egregious, and would be unacceptable from any American—much less a member of Congress” in a statement to a local outlet on Saturday, which his office pointed the DCNF toward upon request for comment.

“Just as he did before voting to expel former Congressman George Santos, Congressman Deluzio will let the judicial process and any Ethics Committee investigation run their course,” Deluzio’s team said at the time.

A spokesperson for the Ethics Committee declined to comment when asked about such an investigation.

Republicans are aiming to capitalize off of Cuellar’s indictment this cycle, with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) compiling past statements from Democrats who called for Santos’ expulsion, Politico reported on Monday.

“Can swing district Democrats buck their party leadership who is protecting Cuellar and say he should resign?” a NRCC official told Politico. “The House Democrats’ official slogan is ‘people over politics.’ Are they going to subscribe to that or no?”

House Democratic leadership has defended Cuellar’s “presumption of innocence,” including Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar.

Cuellar’s office did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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