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Rep. George Santos’ Lies Create Turmoil In Washington

Republicans and Democrats call for resignation.
Photo courtesy of United States House of Representatives
Republican representative George Santos is pictured. Santos has become a controversial figure following the discovery that he has lied about various aspects of his life.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but in the past 14 years of my life, boredom has sparked more than a couple games of two truths and a lie.

I always considered myself relatively good at this game as normally, my lies remained undisputed and my truths unfound. At some points, I would even consider myself a master. However, I am nothing compared to the real master, Rep. George Santos, a man so skilled that his only truth seems to be his own name, if that. 

34-year-old Republican George Santos is the current House Representative for New York’s third congressional district. Santos was sworn in to his first and likely only term in 2023, and since his election, a long stream of lies—both small and large—have come to light. The list of things that Santos has lied about is not short, ranging from his family background to his education to the death of his own mother to a possible Ponzi scheme. 

Starting with his most obvious lies, Santos claimed he graduated with a degree in Finance and Economics from Baruch College in New York, graduating, as he put in his resume according to the New York Times, “Summa cum laude,” the highest honor one can achieve when graduating from a university, and he said he was in the “top 1% of class.” Additionally, he claimed to have attended the private and highly prestigious Horace Mann School in the Bronx. However, both schools have no record of Santos ever attending in the years he would have, 2006 and 2010 respectively. 

To initially cover for this fact, Santos said he was forced to leave the Horace Mann School when his family “fell on hard times,” citing what he called the 2008 depression. Unfortunately for Santos, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that 2008 was two years after he would have been set to and needed to graduate from the school in order to obtain his college degree.

Santos later admitted to The Washington Post he was out right lying. “He also admitted that he never graduated from any college, despite previously claiming to have received a degree from Baruch in 2010,” Victor Nava and Carl Campanile at The Post wrote. 

In addition to “embellishing”—as Santos called it—his educational record, Santos faked much of the work experience he claimed. Of the many preposterous claims he made, Santos claimed in his resume that he worked at investment banking companies as an asset manager associate at Citigroup in New York and a project manager at Goldman Sach, also in New York. Both companies have stated they had no record of him. This is especially fishy when considering that in the mere eight months he claimed to have worked at Goldman Sachs—January 2017 to August 2017—he supposedly doubled the company’s revenue growth from $300 million to $600 million. Normally, someone that impressive is someone to keep on record.

Despite the near constant lies, there does seem to be one place Santos worked at. After his first failed campaign in 2020, Santos was said to have been working at Florida based investment firm Harbor City Capital. Interestingly enough, this company does not make an appearance on his imitation resume. Probably because Harbor City Capital is currently under investigation from the security and exchange commision for being a Ponzi scheme that— according to The Washington Post—stole over $17 million.

The financial fraud surrounding Santos also extends to his campaign. A formal complaint from the Campaign Legal Center was recently filed with the Federal Election Commision accusing Santos of violating campaign finance regulations. The group cites the fact that Santos made a $700,000 personal donation to his campaign at a time when he only reported earning $50,000 a year and did not have savings of that amount. Additionally, according to Jim Saksa at the Roll Call, Santos and his campaign “misused funds for personal expenses, accepted excessive contributions and filed disclosure forms late.”

If these allegations proved true, as they likely will, Santos could be facing jail time.”The penalty for knowingly hiding the source of campaign funds can be as much as five years imprisonment if the amount exceeds $25,000,” an article by Bill Allison said. 

And these are not the only criminal charges Santos could be facing. 

Brazilian authorities are currently investigating Santos for an incident in 2008 when he reportedly stole a checkbook from a man his mother was working as a home nurse for and went on a shopping spree. Brazilian authorities had been unable to find Santos until now. The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and the Nassau county District attorney in New York are also both investigating Santos.

Santos’ lies are not limited to his professional life, he also claimed his mother, Fatima Devolder, was working in the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11, 2001. In response to a tweet, Santos wrote “9/11 claimed my mother’s life.” Santos claimed that she was the “the first female executive of a major finance institution” in his website biography and that she was in her office at the time of the attack. Although at this point it might sound like a broken record, there is no record of his mother ever working in any “finance institution.” Additionally, despite Devolder’s trail-blazing career, two years before 9/11, she was working in Brazil as a home nurse. 

Regarding her death, Santos claimed in his biography that although she survived the tragic day, she passed “a few years later” due to health complications. While it is true that many people who were at Ground Zero have faced health complications such as cancer and that Devolder did pass from a cancer, she died 15 years after the attack, not what most people would call “a few years” and there is no evidence the cancer she had was at all related to 9/11.

 And this is nowhere near Santos’ only personal “embellishment.” In his website biography (which has now been changed since the allocation of lying came out), Santos claimed that his maternal grandparents were Holocaust refugees who fled from Ukraine due to persecution. They “settled in Belgium and again fled persecution during WWII,” living the rest of their lives in Brazil, a New York Times article by Michaell Gold and Grace Ashford said.

Santos’ claims are especially relevant considering that according to a Brandeis University profile of the 2020 Jewish electorate, the NY-3 district is roughly 21% Jewish with over 117,000 Jewish voters. In his claims, Santos paints a harrowing tale of escaping persecution in search of freedom that likely resonated with many of his voters. However, it was discovered by The Forward—using genealogy websites, refugee records and Brazilian immigration cards—that his grandparents were both born in Brazil preceding WWII and lifelong Catholics. Given the district that he ran in, there is little to no doubt in my mind that Santos stole the painful family histories of many Jewish-Americans in order to buttress a weak campaign in a twisted and offensive way. 

To add to the long list of tragedies that Santos has personal connections to, he also claimed to have lost four employees in the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting. And surprise surprise, there is no record of this being true. According to the New York Times, not a single of the 49 people who lost their lives has any tie to any of the firms he has “worked at.”  

Somehow, it appears that Santos has found a way to less than skillfully tie himself to a higher number of tragedies—given the inconsistency in years on his resumes—than he may be able to count. This seems to be a play to gain votes that is so cheap 7/11 is jealous. As fellow New York representative Ritchie Torres said in a tweet, “George Santos pretended to be a gay Afro-Latino Ukrainian Brazilian Catholic Jew whose mother died on 9/11, whose ancestors survived the Holocaust, whose employees died in the Pulse club mass shooting and whose net worth rose by millions overnight. Am I missing anything?”

Because of the massive amount of fraud Santos has been accused of and admitted to, many have called for his resignation. Even several of his fellow New York and congressional Republicans have publicly said he should leave office. Others have questioned how effective he could possibly be at the job he was elected for. New York Republican Representative Marc Mailinaro echoed this to NBC News when he said, “I don’t think there’s any way he can possibly perform his duties.”

Despite outcry from both sides of the aisle, newly elected speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy has remained silent. McCarthy told several reporters, “I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve.” But the voters did not willingly elect a man who is currently hiding from Brazilian authorities for stealing a checkbook. When 142,000 people choose to vote for Santos, they cast their votes for a Summa cum Laude graduate from Baruch college who doubles companies profits by millions in a matter of months. 

Despite what he says, McCarthy’s reason for not calling for Santos’ resignation might not be what he says. Republicans currently control 222 house seats out of the 435. Additionally, after the strenuous process of becoming speaker, 20 of the Republicans cannot be relied upon by McCarthy for support. Santos can be. As CNN reporter Harry Enton phrased it, “If Santos is forced out, McCarthy would lose a clear ally.” Enton goes on to point out that in a previously blue district, there is no guarantee a Republican would be elected after the Santos debacle. 

In the midst of outcry for his resignation, Santos said he would in fact resign, under the condition that a number of people asked him. When walking to an elevator on the 12th, Santos was asked by a reporter if he was planning to resign. He responded in a flustered manner saying, “If 142 people ask me to resign, I’ll do that.” Santos later said he meant 142,000 (the number of people who voted for him,  but that the elevator “cut him off,” something that seems impossible when no metal doors stopped the eight words he said after. As of now, Santos has no plans of resigning his position. After all, this is likely the last job he’ll ever be able to get, he might be trying to make the most of it.

About the Contributor
Elaine Engel
Elaine Engel, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? I'm looking forward to the incredible community of people and the constant opportunities to work on projects I’m passionate about What are your favorite TV shows/movies? West Wing, The Trail of the Chicago Seven, and Top Gun: Maverick Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why? I would love to travel to Machu Picchu because of the combination of a beautiful view and interesting history