Biography of newly elected Congressman George Santos seemed quite impressive. The 34-year-old son of immigrants graduated from Baruch College, a New York public college, before working at firms such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Santos eventually became a successful financier who started an animal rescue charity. The problem is that the biography was apparently false, and now he faces not only political consequences, but legal consequences for his wholesale invention.
As revealed in the Dec. 19 New York Times, Santos not only exaggerated his resume — he allegedly invented it from whole cloth.
The Times found that he apparently did not graduate from Baruch College, did not work for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, had no record of being a successful financier, or registered animal rescue charity. The Times also found that he had been charged with check fraud in Brazil.
Furthermore, several outlets have repeatedly found no evidence that Santos is Jewish, has Jewish heritage, or is descended from refugees who fled the Holocaust. Santos even described himself as a “proud American Jew” in a campaign position paper.
In a media tour with friendly outlets on December 26, Santos admitted to having “a little fluff” on his resume. In other words, he admitted that he never graduated from college, never worked for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, and was not Jewish (though he claimed to be “Jewish-ish”). Santos stopped lying about basic biographical information as embellishment, and he pushed back on the Times’ report on his criminal charges in Brazil. “I’m not a criminal,” he told the New York Post.
The story sparked one of the more bizarre political scandals in American history. Congress members killed in office. In fact, one member of Congress even killed another member of Congress. Even in the present day, we’ve seen every scandal under the sun, from Anthony Weiner tweeting an indecent photo of himself to Marjorie Taylor Green’s infamous Facebook post about Jewish space lasers. But it’s hard to think of precedents for a scandal like Santos’, which has faced calls from fellow Republicans to resign and investigate possible criminal misconduct.
Who is George Santos?
There are a few things we know about Santos. The openly gay son of Brazilian immigrants, he was elected in November to an open congressional seat that includes Nassau County’s North Shore of Long Island and a thin slice of Queens. Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman 54 percent to 46 percent. That represents a big swing from 2020 when Biden won the district by the same margin. That year, Santos ran against incumbent Tom Suzy in the same district and lost 56 percent to 43.5 percent.
Santos is also an ardent Trump supporter — so much so that he was at Trump’s Ellipse rally on January 6, 2021, and has repeatedly falsely claimed that the former president won the 2020 election.
Also, for all his alleged lies about his resume, it’s clear that Santos worked for a company, Harbor City Capital, that the Securities and Exchange Commission has accused of being a Ponzi scheme. As for Santos’ other employment, he worked as a Portuguese-language customer service agent for DISH Network a decade ago.
Santos is also accused of setting up a GoFundMe that raised $3,000 to pay for the life-saving surgery of a disabled homeless veteran’s deceased service dog and then pocketing the money. he responded on Twitter Claiming “I would let a dog die reports that are shocking and insane.” “Over the past 24 hours I’ve received pictures of dogs I’ve helped rescue throughout the year with messages of support,” Santos added. Politico reported that the alleged scam is being investigated by federal law enforcement. There have been questions about whether he misappropriated other funds he raised for animal welfare.
Santos has also pushed back against claims he wore drag while in Brazil. A drag performer named Eula Richard told multiple outlets that Santos performed in drag under the name “Kitara Ravache”.
Santos initially mounted an offensive denial on Twitter. “The media’s recent obsession with claiming that I am a drag queen or ‘performed’ as a drag queen is completely false,” the New York Republican contended. “The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I work to deliver results.”
Finally, he admitted to reporters at LaGuardia Airport that he was wearing drag but that he was just “having fun at a festival”.
What do we not know?
We don’t know much. It covers everything from basic information about Santos’ biography to details about his dealings with Brazil’s criminal justice system, including where he actually lives.
But more importantly, we don’t know where Santos’ money comes from. The representative lent $700,000 to his own campaign during the 2022 cycle and claimed $750,000 in income. He lists multimillion-dollar assets, including an apartment in Rio de Janeiro worth up to $1 million and a seven-figure savings account. It’s a big change of fortune for someone who, in 2015 and 2017, was taken to court for failing to pay rent and defaulting on debt. Even in 2020, he reported income in only one category — compensation over $5,000 paid by one source — with no other assets.
Santos initially did not provide any information on his finances during his media tour, except to admit that he does not own any property. It was before that claimed on Twitter 13 The property owner must be a landlord. The representative eventually claimed in an interview with Semaphore that his new wealth came from “capital exposure” where he helped broker deals for the wealthy. Santos uses selling a yacht as an example of how he earns a living, “If you’re looking at a $20 million yacht, my referral fee might be between $200,000 and $400,000.”
What is happening now?
Santos is already being investigated by federal and local prosecutors while New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office is “looking into some of the matters that have been discovered.” Further, a complaint has been filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center alleged that Santos illegally concealed the source of his campaign loan money through a straw donor scheme and violated other charges, including whether he used campaign funds for personal expenses. The Washington Post reported in late January that the Justice Department had asked the FEC to hold off on any enforcement action so it could pursue a criminal investigation.
Although Santos originally accepted an assignment from House GOP leadership to sit on the Science and Small Business Committees, he announced at a Jan. 31 meeting of Republican lawmakers that he would step down from those positions. The announcement came a day after a closed-door meeting with McCarthy.
Dan Goldman, a fellow representative from New York and a former prosecutor, suggested Santos face criminal investigation for conspiracy to defraud the United States as well as filing false statements with the FEC.
In a December interview with Vox, Goldman shied away from considering whether Santos should decline his seat in Congress. “The big question is not whether I think Jorge Santos should be a member of Congress. Kevin McCarthy and the Republican leadership think the big question is whether George Santos should be a member of Congress.”
Several of Santos’ fellow Republicans have also called on him to resign. The Nassau County Republican Party, long considered the most powerful county party in New York, called on Santos to resign, as did other fellow New York Republicans, including Representatives Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler, Nick Langworthy and Brandon Williams. Joe Cairo, chairman of the Nassau County GOP, told reporters“Jorge Santos’ campaign last year was a campaign of fraud, lies and fabrication” while demanding his resignation.
Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), one of only two Jewish Republicans in the House and a longtime Trump White House aide, Called for Santos to resign in mid-JanuaryAnd in doing so cited New York Republicans’ lies about his family’s ties to the Holocaust.
The results left Santos in limbo without a committee assignment and an endless pack of reporters following him around the Capitol. But, as McCarthy admitted to reporters, if the Ethics Committee finds that Santos broke the law, the New York Republican should be expelled from Congress. Also, there is fresh outrage for the Ethics Committee over a potential staffer accused of sexually harassing a New York congressman late last week.
However, by now, McCarthy needs Santos almost as much as Santos needs McCarthy. McCarthy became speaker by the skin of his teeth on the 15th ballot. With a narrow majority — and the possibility of frequent member absences now that the House has gotten rid of proxy voting — McCarthy needs every vote he can get.
Further, because Santos represents one of the most Democratic seats in Congress held by a Republican, forcing him to resign under any circumstances is risky. It would be a tough seat for Republicans in a special election, and a loss would further jeopardize an already slim GOP majority.
Meanwhile, it’s just a matter of waiting for the next shoe to drop. As unsustainable as the current status quo may seem, Santos’ only motivation to resign would be a sense of shame, and it seems unlikely that he will carry that burden.
Update, February 6, 9:50 a.m. ET: This story was originally published on December 21, 2022 and has been updated multiple times, most recently as Santos’ involvement in an alleged GoFundMe scam is under federal investigation and a potential worker has accused him of sexual harassment.