Liar, liar pants on fire: George Santos

When Republican George Santos filed to run for Congress in New York’s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island, his profile seemed like a perfect fit in a city that leans decidedly liberal. He ticked all of the demographic boxes. He was young, gay, and Jewish. His grandmother had escaped the holocaust, moving to America for a new life. He had experience in the corporate world, having worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. He was a graduate of Baruch College, an affiliate of CUNY. What’s not to like?

Santos went on to win a nail-biter of an election, riding the red mini-wave that swept over New York State. But as it turned out, pretty much everything I pointed to above from his resume turned out to be a lie. The New York Post finally caught up to him this week and got him to come clean. And Democrats in New York are asking how nobody managed to figure this out during the campaign.

“I am not a criminal,” Santos said at one point during his exclusive interview. “This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”

Santos’s professional biography was called into question earlier this month after the New York Times reported that he misrepresented a number of claims, including where he attended college and his alleged employment history with high-profile Wall Street firms.

Where do we even begin with this laundry list of falsehoods? Santos admitted that he “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, instead working at a firm that “did business” with those companies. He said he needed “to be clearer” about his work history in the future and that the claim had been “stated poorly.”

As for his college degree, that never happened. He said he “didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning.” This was written off as “embellishing” his resume. He’s also not Jewish. He is “clearly Catholic” (his words) but he remembers his grandmother “telling stories about being Jewish.” Amazingly, he told the Post that since his family came from a Jewish background, “I said I was `Jew-ish.’” Apparently, the hyphen is silent.

He also has some peculiar habits for a gay guy. Specifically, he was married to a woman until two years ago. But he assured the reporters that he’s now “very much gay.” So… okay, then.

How did George Santos make it over the finish line before all of this information came to light? The general consensus among New York Democrats seems to be that it’s a matter of timing. You see, Santos ran for this seat in 2020 against Democrat Tom Suozzi. It was obvious that Santos was going to get his clock cleaned and he did, losing by roughly 20 points. He was basically little more than a placeholder name on the ballot for the Republicans, so nobody really bothered vetting him or looking at the race too closely. And two years later, since he had run before, a lot of people clearly assumed that he’d already been vetted. (And there were bigger, hotter races to cover in the state anyway.)

Now George Santos is preparing to be sworn in next week. And while he is apologizing (sort of) for all of the untruths he told on the campaign trail, he has no intention of stepping aside. He claims he’s going to work hard and be a successful representative for his district. We shall see.

In the wake of Santos’s confession, a number of lawmakers called for the incoming lawmaker to resign from his House seat — or be ousted by Congress if he won’t step down willingly.

“We’ve seen people fudge their resume but this is total fabrication,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) wrote on Twitter. 

Castro suggested that letting Santos take his seat in the 118th Congress when it convenes in January could set a dangerous precedent for future campaign trails, letting candidates “believe that they can completely fabricate credentials, personal features and accomplishments to win office.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on Tuesday appealed to Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), asking him to call publicly for Santos’s resignation or schedule a vote to expel him if he doesn’t. 

“George Santos knowingly let you spread his lies. @Santos4Congress has embarrassed you and the Republican caucus,” Lieu said.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) said the House Ethics Committee should probe Santos’s campaign fundraising, saying the “complete fabrication” of his resume could indicate other issues. 

Last week, before Santos confessed to the fabrications, incoming House Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) said Santos appears to be an “utter fraud.”

“He appears to be a complete and utter fraud — his whole life story made up. And he’s going to have to answer that question: Did you perpetrate a fraud on the voters of the 3rd Congressional District in New York?” Jeffries told reporters in Washington. 

“He’s hiding from legitimate questions that his constituents are asking about his education, about his so-called charity, about his work experience, about his criminal entanglements in Brazil, about every aspect, it appears, of his life,” Jeffries said.

Democrat Robert Zimmerman, who Santos defeated in November, has called for a special election in wake of the controversy.

“George, if that’s even your real name, if you’re so convinced that #NY3 voters still trust you – resign & run against me again in a special election,” Zimmerman wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “Face the voters with your real past & answer questions about your criminal history. Let the voters decide.”

Other Democrats who lost out in the primary earlier this year are calling Santos out for his fabrications and urging him to step down. 

Nassau County legislator Josh Lafazan wrote on Twitter that Santos “has now publicly admitted to what we have all known for a week: he’s a liar & a fraud” and “owes us an apology & immediate resignation. 

Despite direct calls from Democrat lawmakers to take action, McCarthy, who is vying to be the next Speaker of the House, has not commented on the issue. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted in support of Santos on Wednesday.

“The left doesn’t care about lying. The real reason they’re attacking George Santos is that he the first openly gay Republican elected and they hate him for it. I’m glad George is being honest with his district now and look forward to seeing how George legislates & votes,” Greene wrote. 

Santos’s lawyer Joseph Murray last week called the New York Times report a “shotgun blast of attacks” and said the coverage indicated Santos had “enemies” at the outlet who were trying to “smear his good name with these defamatory allegations.”

While national level criticism was more muted, local Republicans have called for action to be taken against Santos.

Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo said on Tuesday that Santos “has broken the public trust” by making the false claims.

“He has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of voters and everyone who he represents in Congress,” Cairo said.

Santos’s fellow New York Republican Rep.-elect Nick LaLota on Tuesday called for a the House Ethics Committee to launch a full investigation into the matter, saying he’d “heard from countless Long Islanders how deeply troubled they are” by the Santos revelations.

“New Yorkers deserve the truth and House Republicans deserve an opportunity to govern without this distraction,” LaLota wrote on Twitter.

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