Newly elected Republican Rep. George Santos (N.Y.) sold a nice-sounding story to voters: Born to Brazilian immigrants, he went from attending a public college in New York City to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor,” in charge of his family’s real-estate portfolio of 13 New York properties. Santos, 34, is openly gay and said he was the “full embodiment of the American dream.”
Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman by eight points in the race for New York’s 3rd Congressional district, which represents parts of Long Island and Queens, in a bit of an upset. (In 2020, Santos lost to Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) by more than 12 points, but then Suozzi retired.) But according to a damning new report in the New York Times, it appears that Santos just...well, made up giant chunks of his résumé.
Santos claimed he’d worked at both Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but neither company had records of him ever working there. Baruch College in Manhattan told the Times it found no record of anyone with that name and birthdate graduating in 2010 as Santos had claimed. (Santos’ bio on the National Republican Congressional Committee website also says he attended New York University, but NYU could not find any records of his attendance.)
The Times couldn’t find records of any of his family’s 13 properties, and Santos didn’t disclose them as required on financial forms for his two campaigns. Santos says the family company, the Devolder Organization, pays him a $750,000 salary plus dividends, but he didn’t disclose on the forms where the money comes from. The paper also learned that Santos was criminal charged for check fraud in Brazil after he stole someone’s checkbook when he was 19.
In an interview with WNYC, the host asked about the mass shooting at a Colorado Springs gay bar and whether Santos thought members of his party were “pandering to anti-LGBTQ hate” more than Democrats. In his response, Santos claimed that he lost several staffers in the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
“I condemn what happened in Colorado, just much like at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, which I happen to, at the time, have people that work for me in the club. My company, at the time, we lost four employees that work that were at Pulse nightclub.
But the Times found no evidence of that happening either: “a Times review of news coverage and obituaries found that none of the 49 victims appear to have worked at the various firms named in his biography.”
And finally, Santos claimed to have founded a tax-exempt animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, that saved more than 2,500 cats and dogs. But, the Times reports, “the Internal Revenue Service could locate no record of a registered charity with that name.”
Santos declined the Times’ requests for interviews, and his lawyer, Joe Murray, didn’t respond to a detailed list of questions. In a short statement, Murray said it’s “no surprise that Congressman-elect Santos has enemies at The New York Times who are attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations.” Accountability reporting is not defamation, but I digress.
The Santos campaign did not immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.
It sure would have been nice if voters knew this information before the November 8 election. I’m not sure if Democrats were so certain they’d win the race that they didn’t do opposition research or what, but again, this wasn’t Santos’ first time on the ballot! Just humiliating for everyone involved.
Update, 12/19/22, 5:35pm: Santos issued a statement on Twitter via his lawyer, Joe Murray, which didn’t refute any of the allegations in the Times story, but did misattribute a quote to Winston Churchill. Murray wrote: “As Winston Churchill famously stated, ‘You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.’” PolitiFact said it’s a modernized version of a quote from Victor Hugo.