New York Republican Representative-elect George Santos is facing calls to resign now that he's admitted to “embellishing” his résumé after The New York Times published the results of an extensive investigation that called into question key elements of his biography.
Santos fessed up to at least some of his lies in an interview with The New York Post, telling the conservative tabloid he is “embarrassed” by his false and misleading statements but that he nonetheless believes he will be an “effective” House Republican once the new Congress is seated in January.
Santos insisted he is "not a criminal" and that the controversy "will not deter [him] from having good legislative success," adding:
“My sins here are embellishing my résumé. I’m sorry."
The soon-to-be legislator—whose election on Long Island last month helped Republicans secure a slim majority in the House of Representatives—had earlier been mocked online after he said he needed a few days to address the allegations, prompting many to opine that he was simply buying time to concoct more lies about his life story.
Indeed, the exposé detailing Santos' many lies and indiscretions makes it difficult to trust anything he says or does.
Earlier this month, Times journalists Grace Ashford and Michael Gold reported that Santos "misrepresented a number of his career highlights" despite building his candidacy "on the notion that he was the 'full embodiment of the American dream' and was running to safeguard it for others."
A Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil—where Santos, the son of Brazilian immigrants, spent some time—as well as "various attempts to verify claims" Santos made on the campaign trail, concluded that Santos had lied about everything from his education to his work history at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and even his source of income.
For instance, Santos claims he graduated from Baruch College but neither the Times nor a separate investigation by NPR could confirm this and the school told the latter outlet that it could find no match for a George Santos in its database. And while Santos has described himself as a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor,” neither Citigroup nor Goldman Sachs had records of him working at their firms.
Santos—who claims to have been gay all his life and did not reveal during his campaign that he had divorced a woman in 2019—even said in one interview that four of his employees died in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, claims that did not hold up under scrutiny.
And where Santos gets his income is still a mystery even though he reported a $750,000 salary and dividends of over $1 million from his company, the Devolder Organization, which doesn't appear to exist.
Santos confessed to Post reporters he had “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, ascribing his prior statements that he had to a "poor choice of words."
In an effort to be "clearer," he now claims that a company called Link Bridge, where he worked as a vice president, did business with the financial firms, adding that he helped make “capital introductions” between clients and investors and handled "LPS"—or "Limited Partnerships" between Link Bridge and the two financial firms.
He further admitted that he never received a college degree and addressed a claim the Jewish American publication The Forward questioned that his grandparents “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII":
“I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
Santos had also been accused of lying about his sexual orientation given how he'd neglected to tell voters that he'd been married and divorced to a woman, saying he is "very much gay" and that details of the "toxic" relationship are "personal stuff."
Though Santos insists that he "campaigned talking about the people’s concerns" and that he wants to deliver on his campaign promises, few are buying it.
In fact, many are loudly calling on him to resign.
Democrats and some commentators have expressed surprise and disappointment that opposition research did not detect or act on Santos' résumé discrepancies before the election.
Republican leaders have remained largely silent on the scandal even though some former supporters within the party have called upon Santos to explain himself, including the chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee as well as former Long Island Republican Congressman Peter T. King.
Observers have expressed doubt about whether the House would take action, given the chamber's narrow Republican majority in the incoming Congress. Santos recently announced he would support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's bid for House Speaker, and McCarthy is struggling to obtain the majority of votes necessary to win the coveted position.
The House could decline to seat Santos, an action that would trigger a special election in a district that had previously favored Democrats, though Republicans are more likely to deny Santos committee assignments than expel him outright.