FACT CHECK: No, Kathy Hochul Cannot Appoint A Democrat To Fill George Santos’ Potential Vacancy
A post shared on Facebook purports New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul will appoint a Democrat to fill New York Republican Rep. George Santos’ seat if he resigns.
Although New York State law requires the governor to call a special election within 10 days of a vacancy, it does not give the governor the authority to make an appointment. Election law experts also debunked the claim.
The House referred a Democratic-backed resolution to expel Santos from Congress to the Ethics Committee May 17, according to CBS News. The embattled representative has also appointed himself as the treasurer of his own campaign committee before appointing another person a day later, CNN reported.
The Facebook post purports Hochul will appoint a Democrat to fulfill Santos’ seat if he agrees to resign from Congress. The post further claims the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly offering Santos a deal for a lighter sentence in connection with allegations he stole money and lied to Congress, among other charges.
The claim is false. Although New York State law requires the governor to call a special election within 10 days of a vacancy, it does not give the governor the authority to make an appointment. In addition, Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution indicates that “when vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.”
Furthermore, two election law experts denied Hochul has the authority to appoint a replacement in an email to Check Your Fact. (RELATED: Social Media Post Purports To Show George Santos’ Mugshot)
“Under the US Constitution, a governor cannot fill a vacancy in the US House of Representatives through appointment,” James Garner, a law professor at University at Buffalo School of Law, told Check Your Fact via email. “The governor’s power to fill vacancies in federal offices is limited to making appointments to fill vacancies in the Senate. Vacancies in the House must be filled by a special election.”
“Hochul has no power to replace Santos,” Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, agreed in another email to Check Your Fact. “Vacancies in the Senate can be temporarily filled by gubernatorial appointment pursuant to the Seventeenth Amendment, but not in the House. A replacement would be chosen in the next election.”
There are no credible news reports suggesting the DOJ has made a deal with Santos in order to lighten his sentence. The DOJ has neither issued a press release nor a social media statement about the claim. Santos also has not publicly addressed the claim via his government Twitter account.
This is not the first time Santos has been the subject of misinformation on social media. Check Your Fact recently debunked a photo allegedly showing a mugshot of the embattled representative.