That puts Santos on a short list of congressmen who were also booted from their positions by their colleagues.
In US history, only 5 representatives and 15 senators have been removed from office.
But Santos’ removal is unique: He’s the only congressman who was removed without a criminal conviction or an association with the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Instead, Santos was removed after a damning House Ethics Committee report said there was “substantial evidence” that he violated federal laws. Santos has been indicted on 23 federal charges, including wire fraud and identity theft, which the congressman has pleaded not guilty to. A trial is set to begin in September.
During a debate on the House floor on Thursday, Santos attempted to use the unique circumstances around his removal to undermine the allegations he faced and his colleagues’ attempts to remove him.
“Every member expelled in the history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or confederate turncoats guilty of treason. Neither of those apply to me. But here we are,” he said.
Santos could not be reached for comment. His attorney did not immediately respond to an inquiry sent outside of working hours.
The last time a congressman was removed from office occurred more than two decades ago when a representative from Ohio was convicted of 10 charges of tax evasion, racketeering, bribery, and obstruction of justice.
James A. Traficant Jr., a Democrat serving his ninth term at the time, was convicted of those charges in April 2002.
Some of his offenses included providing favors for local contractors who worked on Traficant’s boat and farm, and hiring an attorney for a congressional staff position in exchange for a $2,500 monthly payment and an agreement to rent office space to Traficant, according to the indictment.
In July 2002, House members voted 420-1 to kick Traficant out of Congress. The only Congress member to vote nay was Democratic Rep. Gary A. Condit of California, who at the time lost his primary election after he was plagued with a scandal involving an extramarital affair with an intern from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In his final speech, Traficant said, “I’ll go to jail before I resign and admit to something I didn’t do,” CNN reported.
Traficant was sent to prison in August and served 7 years before his release on September 2, 2009.