Former Republican Rep. George Santos votes during the debate over...

Former Republican Rep. George Santos votes during the debate over the election of a new House Speaker in January.  Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON — Now that George Santos has been booted from Congress and admits he’s in talks for a plea deal on his 23-count federal criminal indictment, the question remains: Just what did Santos do for 11 months as congressman?

Santos served as a sworn representative of New York’s 3rd Congressional District for 329 days, but what few things he did do were overshadowed by wave after wave of revelations of his alleged crimes and misdeeds, and his own attention-grabbing antics.

Santos defended his abbreviated public service as he attacked his former colleagues and pinned blame on former advisers.

“I’m so proud of the legacy I leave behind, even with the short 11-month term that I served,” Santos told Marcia Kramer on CBS New York on Dec. 10. “I feel like every vote I took I can stand by and I can defend, and I’m proud of that.”

Santos did not respond to requests for an interview.

His record of votes and legislation in Congress drew scorn from political experts.

“It’s one thing to be a pariah, it’s another to be an ineffective pariah,” said Steve Israel, the former eight-term congressman who represented much of what is now New York’s 3rd District and now is director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University.

“His record reflects a congressman who was consumed with himself and his infamy and paid little attention to his constituents or his legislative responsibilities,” Israel, a Democrat, told Newsday.

To find out just what Santos did the past year, Newsday examined the footprints he left behind in the records of the U.S. House of Representatives on his votes, his legislation and his expenses as a congressman.

It is, in short, Santos by the numbers.

Santos cast his most significant vote on April 19 when then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) needed to pass a debt limit bill to give him leverage to negotiate with the Senate and White House because of the defections of four hard-right Republicans.

Santos waited until he was the last to vote, then voted yes — a sharp reversal of his assertion that he was a “hard no.” Santos’ vote allowed McCarthy to eke out a 217-215 victory, a strong confirmation that Santos needed McCarthy’s protection and McCarthy needed Santos’ vote.

That vote stood out among the 636 votes Santos cast, many of them with the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, whose members allowed him to sit with them in the House chamber. The conservative Heritage Action advocacy group gave him a 100% rating.

His overall voting record, however, put him in the middle range of moderate to conservative House Republicans, according to an analysis by UCLA’s VoteView, which ranks members from liberal to conservative.

The record also shows Santos missed many votes and sessions of the House.

He participated in only 92% of the votes during his tenure — the fewest in the 26-member New York delegation. That is much less than the 99% House median, according to VoteView.

And he attended House sessions only 93% of the time, the third lowest in the delegation and far less than the 99% median, despite having no committee work to keep him away.

In the three weeks before his expulsion, Santos finally passed a measure: The House approved two of his amendments by voice votes, one of them in a nearly empty chamber.

In one, Santos protested the lack of action on air traffic noise over his district by chopping Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg’s pay to $1. In the other, he shifted nearly $40 million from the Transportation Secretary’s office to restore the Trump-created Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement the Biden administration had dissolved because it duplicated the work of other agencies.

But it is highly likely that negotiators will jettison both amendments from the final appropriations bill next year.

With time on his hands after stepping down from his two committee assignments because he faced ethics and criminal complaints, Santos filed 43 measures — with a co-sponsor on only one of them — and co-sponsored 152 bills proposed by others.

Santos filed three amendments to other members’ bills, eight resolutions that announced a position and 32 bills that could make law and authorize federal spending. That was the most total measures among New York’s nine first-year representatives in the first 11 months of 2023.

Yet Santos was among the five New York first-year members who failed to pass a single bill.

He also had the lowest success rate among those new members in getting committee action on his bills — just five of them.

“Even though these were all referred to subcommittees, they didn’t go anywhere. There weren't any hearings or markups,” said Alan Wiseman, chair of Vanderbilt University’s political science department and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking.

But Santos excelled at one thing — drawing attention.

He co-sponsored a bill to make the AR-15 the national rifle. He targeted China in a half-dozen bills. And he named bills after pop stars Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift. On the Frank Morano show on WABC radio this month, he said that gimmick was a way to “engage youth.”

Santos did not spend much on his congressional office, suggesting a lower level of outreach and engagement with his constituents than most other members of the New York delegation.

His overall expenditures through Sept. 30 stood at $1,064,681 — which ranks in the bottom 20% of all House members and as the second lowest in the New York delegation, just ahead of Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-Pendleton), who spent about $37,000 less.

In the first three quarters of 2023, Santos spent far less than other House members from New York in seven of eight expenditure categories, according to reports posted on the House Clerk’s office website.

For example, New York representatives spent an average of $9,321 on equipment, but Santos spent $2,854. They spent an average of $41,336 on printing, while Santos spent $2,850. And others plunked down an average of $27,633 on franked mail; Santos spent $357.

He even spent less on rent and utilities for his offices in Douglaston, Queens and Jericho than anyone else in the New York delegation: just $45,426, compared with the New York delegation average of $111,386 and less than over 80% of all House members.

Travel ranked as the one area in which he exceeded the New York average: $46,470 for trips that included travel to El Paso and San Diego to review border control efforts and to Florida for the launch of Elon Musk's SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station.

Santos’ biggest cost was for staff. He spent more on personnel compensation — about 87% of his office expenditures — than anyone else in the New York House delegation.

Santos initially paid his 14 staffers less than many other lawmakers, but made up for that in the third quarter by giving supplemental pay to each of them, from chief of staff to staff assistant, in amounts ranging from 15% to 50% of their salaries.

Those staffers handled many of the usual tasks of a House office and drafted the high number of legislative measures he filed. Santos said he appointed 29 constituents to military academies with four accepted, and his staff resolved 1,149 of the 1,286 constituent requests for passports or help with immigration and other issues.

The representatives in nearby districts, however, spoke of requests for help from many of Santos’ constituents. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) said, “It’s long been clear that many residents of the 3rd District feel more comfortable seeking support from my office.”

Santos held three mobile office hours at libraries. But when he tried to hold a town hall on Sept. 21 at the Westbury Memorial Library, complaints and threatened protests led the librarians to back out — and Santos had to cancel the event.

The findings of Newsday's by-the-numbers examination of Santos' record drew reviews almost as scathing as a House Ethics Committee report about him that landed just before his expulsion from the House on Dec. 1.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato scoffed at Santos.

“We shouldn’t nitpick,” Sabato told Newsday in an email. “Santos was a bargain for his entertainment value alone.” 

Longtime Washington attorney Stanley Brand, who once served as the House counsel, said, “I wouldn’t put Santos in my Hall of Fame of convicted members. But he does join a cadre of members who manipulated the campaign finance system.”

“I see people, not numbers,” said Ray Smock, who served as the U.S. House historian from 1983 to 1995. 

“Santos is a charlatan and possibly a criminal. The House, including members of both parties, saw him in that light and they judged him unworthy of holding a seat,” Smock said. “This remains the story.”

WASHINGTON — Now that George Santos has been booted from Congress and admits he’s in talks for a plea deal on his 23-count federal criminal indictment, the question remains: Just what did Santos do for 11 months as congressman?

Santos served as a sworn representative of New York’s 3rd Congressional District for 329 days, but what few things he did do were overshadowed by wave after wave of revelations of his alleged crimes and misdeeds, and his own attention-grabbing antics.

Santos defended his abbreviated public service as he attacked his former colleagues and pinned blame on former advisers.

“I’m so proud of the legacy I leave behind, even with the short 11-month term that I served,” Santos told Marcia Kramer on CBS New York on Dec. 10. “I feel like every vote I took I can stand by and I can defend, and I’m proud of that.”

Santos did not respond to requests for an interview.

His record of votes and legislation in Congress drew scorn from political experts.

“It’s one thing to be a pariah, it’s another to be an ineffective pariah,” said Steve Israel, the former eight-term congressman who represented much of what is now New York’s 3rd District and now is director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University.

“His record reflects a congressman who was consumed with himself and his infamy and paid little attention to his constituents or his legislative responsibilities,” Israel, a Democrat, told Newsday.

To find out just what Santos did the past year, Newsday examined the footprints he left behind in the records of the U.S. House of Representatives on his votes, his legislation and his expenses as a congressman.

It is, in short, Santos by the numbers.

Santos' voting record

Santos cast his most significant vote on April 19 when then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) needed to pass a debt limit bill to give him leverage to negotiate with the Senate and White House because of the defections of four hard-right Republicans.

Santos waited until he was the last to vote, then voted yes — a sharp reversal of his assertion that he was a “hard no.” Santos’ vote allowed McCarthy to eke out a 217-215 victory, a strong confirmation that Santos needed McCarthy’s protection and McCarthy needed Santos’ vote.

That vote stood out among the 636 votes Santos cast, many of them with the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, whose members allowed him to sit with them in the House chamber. The conservative Heritage Action advocacy group gave him a 100% rating.

His overall voting record, however, put him in the middle range of moderate to conservative House Republicans, according to an analysis by UCLA’s VoteView, which ranks members from liberal to conservative.

The record also shows Santos missed many votes and sessions of the House.

He participated in only 92% of the votes during his tenure — the fewest in the 26-member New York delegation. That is much less than the 99% House median, according to VoteView.

And he attended House sessions only 93% of the time, the third lowest in the delegation and far less than the 99% median, despite having no committee work to keep him away.

Measures passed: 2

In the three weeks before his expulsion, Santos finally passed a measure: The House approved two of his amendments by voice votes, one of them in a nearly empty chamber.

In one, Santos protested the lack of action on air traffic noise over his district by chopping Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg’s pay to $1. In the other, he shifted nearly $40 million from the Transportation Secretary’s office to restore the Trump-created Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement the Biden administration had dissolved because it duplicated the work of other agencies.

But it is highly likely that negotiators will jettison both amendments from the final appropriations bill next year.

With time on his hands after stepping down from his two committee assignments because he faced ethics and criminal complaints, Santos filed 43 measures — with a co-sponsor on only one of them — and co-sponsored 152 bills proposed by others.

Santos filed three amendments to other members’ bills, eight resolutions that announced a position and 32 bills that could make law and authorize federal spending. That was the most total measures among New York’s nine first-year representatives in the first 11 months of 2023.

Yet Santos was among the five New York first-year members who failed to pass a single bill.

He also had the lowest success rate among those new members in getting committee action on his bills — just five of them.

“Even though these were all referred to subcommittees, they didn’t go anywhere. There weren't any hearings or markups,” said Alan Wiseman, chair of Vanderbilt University’s political science department and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking.

But Santos excelled at one thing — drawing attention.

He co-sponsored a bill to make the AR-15 the national rifle. He targeted China in a half-dozen bills. And he named bills after pop stars Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift. On the Frank Morano show on WABC radio this month, he said that gimmick was a way to “engage youth.”

Santos ran lean operation

Santos did not spend much on his congressional office, suggesting a lower level of outreach and engagement with his constituents than most other members of the New York delegation.

His overall expenditures through Sept. 30 stood at $1,064,681 — which ranks in the bottom 20% of all House members and as the second lowest in the New York delegation, just ahead of Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-Pendleton), who spent about $37,000 less.

In the first three quarters of 2023, Santos spent far less than other House members from New York in seven of eight expenditure categories, according to reports posted on the House Clerk’s office website.

For example, New York representatives spent an average of $9,321 on equipment, but Santos spent $2,854. They spent an average of $41,336 on printing, while Santos spent $2,850. And others plunked down an average of $27,633 on franked mail; Santos spent $357.

He even spent less on rent and utilities for his offices in Douglaston, Queens and Jericho than anyone else in the New York delegation: just $45,426, compared with the New York delegation average of $111,386 and less than over 80% of all House members.

Travel ranked as the one area in which he exceeded the New York average: $46,470 for trips that included travel to El Paso and San Diego to review border control efforts and to Florida for the launch of Elon Musk's SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station.

Santos’ biggest cost was for staff. He spent more on personnel compensation — about 87% of his office expenditures — than anyone else in the New York House delegation.

Santos initially paid his 14 staffers less than many other lawmakers, but made up for that in the third quarter by giving supplemental pay to each of them, from chief of staff to staff assistant, in amounts ranging from 15% to 50% of their salaries.

Those staffers handled many of the usual tasks of a House office and drafted the high number of legislative measures he filed. Santos said he appointed 29 constituents to military academies with four accepted, and his staff resolved 1,149 of the 1,286 constituent requests for passports or help with immigration and other issues.

The representatives in nearby districts, however, spoke of requests for help from many of Santos’ constituents. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) said, “It’s long been clear that many residents of the 3rd District feel more comfortable seeking support from my office.”

Santos held three mobile office hours at libraries. But when he tried to hold a town hall on Sept. 21 at the Westbury Memorial Library, complaints and threatened protests led the librarians to back out — and Santos had to cancel the event.

George Santos' legacy

The findings of Newsday's by-the-numbers examination of Santos' record drew reviews almost as scathing as a House Ethics Committee report about him that landed just before his expulsion from the House on Dec. 1.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato scoffed at Santos.

“We shouldn’t nitpick,” Sabato told Newsday in an email. “Santos was a bargain for his entertainment value alone.” 

Longtime Washington attorney Stanley Brand, who once served as the House counsel, said, “I wouldn’t put Santos in my Hall of Fame of convicted members. But he does join a cadre of members who manipulated the campaign finance system.”

“I see people, not numbers,” said Ray Smock, who served as the U.S. House historian from 1983 to 1995. 

“Santos is a charlatan and possibly a criminal. The House, including members of both parties, saw him in that light and they judged him unworthy of holding a seat,” Smock said. “This remains the story.”

Santos by the Numbers

Served: 11 months

Committee membership: 0

Votes cast: 636

Participation in House votes: 92%

Median House participation: 99%

Attendance at House sessions: 93%

Median House attendance: 99%

Bills, resolutions and amendments introduced: 43

Co-Sponsors: 1

Amendments approved: 2, by voice vote

Bills introduced: 32

Bills approved by a vote: 0 

Military service academy nominations: 29

Military service appointments: 4

Constituent service requests: 1,286 cases

Constituent service requests resolved: 1,149

Office expenditures through Sept. 30: $1,049,861

Median House office expenditures: $1,179,611

Campaign debt: $146,905.57

House votes to expel: 311

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