- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Rep.-elect George Santos has come clean about not being truthful with voters about his job background and college education, but he said that won’t stop him from taking his seat in the House next week.

Mr. Santos, 34, admitted to inflating his finance career credentials on his resume and lying about attending Baruch College and later New York University when he ran for the state’s 3rd Congressional District on New York’s Long Island. 

After the election, questions arose about these key aspects of his life story that Mr. Santos presented while on the campaign trail.

“My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry,” he told The New York Post. “I campaigned talking about the people’s concerns, not my resume. … I intend to deliver on the promises I made during the campaign.”

He admitted to lying about graduating from college. Mr. Santos, who is Catholic, claimed he said he was “Jew-ish” not Jewish. And he said his claim that he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs was a “poor choice of words.”

Mr. Santos, a Republican from Queens, said that the issues about his background would not prevent him from taking the oath of office next week when he becomes part of the 118th Congress.

SEE ALSO: More Santos tricks: His campaign staffer accused of impersonating McCarthy aide in bid for donations

House Democrats have called for Mr. Santos’ removal from the chamber because of the lies on his resume.

“GOP Congressman-elect George Santos, who has now admitted his whopping lies, should resign. If he does not, then @GOPLeader should call for a vote to expel @Santos4Congress,” tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu of California, the incoming House Democratic Caucus chairman.

Neither option is likely, though Democrats are eager for a special election in New York that would give them a chance to cut into the House Republicans’ five-seat majority.

Mr. Santos could face a probe over campaign falsehoods by the evenly-divided House Ethics Committee, but any investigation is more likely to be generated by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which, unlike the House panel, can field complaints about House lawmakers from outside groups. The Office of Congressional Ethics refers cases to House Ethics, which typically will conduct a preliminary investigation. 

During the campaign, he claimed that he had earned a finance degree from Baruch College in New York, but the school could not confirm he was a student.

Mr. Santos now acknowledges that he didn’t graduate from Baruch College or anywhere else.

“I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning. I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he said. “I own up to that. … We do stupid things in life.”

Mr. Santos also claimed that he had worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but neither company could find any records confirming that.

Mr. Santos told the newspaper that he had “never worked directly” for either financial firm. He called the claim of employment at those companies a “poor choice of words.”

He said that he worked with these firms through a company known as Link Bridge, an investment firm where he was a vice president.

In another interview, Mr. Santos disputed a New York Times report that Brazilian court records showed he faced criminal charges for allegedly using stolen checks to purchase items at an apparel shop in the city of Niteroi. 

“I’m not a criminal, not here, not abroad, in any jurisdiction in the world, have I ever committed any crimes,” he said on WABC-AM in New York. “And I’m more than happy to corroborate that with anybody willing to see copies of a picture of my renewed passports and my…continued visits to and from Brazil.”

Prosecutors in Brazil told the newspaper the case was dormant because Mr. Santos never appeared in court.

He also attempted to clarify his claim that his employees died in the 2016 shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

“I was in Florida during the Pulse nightclub shooting at another nightclub that same evening, not too far away,” he said. “But, yes, we did lose four people who were going to be coming to work for the company that was starting up in Orlando.”

Mr. Santos, the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican elected to the House, also faced accusations about his sexuality, when the Daily Beast reported he was previously married to a woman until 2020.

His religious background also came into question.

Mr. Santos‘ campaign website said that his grandparents “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII.” The claim was scrutinized by the Jewish American outlet The Forward.

He told The Post, “I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos told the Post. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”

He went on to say that his grandmother told him she converted from Judaism to Catholicism.

Mr. Santos‘ questionable life story was reportedly known to GOP leaders long before he was elected, and the topic became a “running joke” to several Republican insiders close to House GOP leadership.

A campaign staffer trying to raise money for Mr. Santos called donors last year pretending to be Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff, a GOP insider told The Washington Times.

The source, connected closely to the New York Republican Party, told the Times that Mr. McCarthy’s aides first learned of the Santos staffer’s behavior in August 2021 when a suspicious donor flagged as “unusual” the contact from Mr. McCarthy’s congressional office.

State GOP operatives found out the scheme by the Santos campaign staffer involved not only impersonating McCarthy Chief of Staff Dan Meyer but sending follow-up emails to the donors from a fake email address.

Republican election funding operations, The Times learned, began to steer clear of Mr. Santos‘ campaign and speculated he would have a tough uphill battle in the blue-leaning district.

A spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is not buying Mr. Santos‘ apology. 

“Even in his fake apology, he’s lying again. George Santos is delusional if he thinks voters will trust him after he’s been exposed for lie after lie and continues to withhold key information,” DCCC spokesperson Nebeyatt Betre said.  

However, Democrats failed to perform basic opposition research on Mr. Santos. He has also blamed Republicans for ignoring him in the general election.

“I flipped the seat that Joe Biden won by 10 points by winning it by nine and a half points without any outside help,” Mr. Santos told reporters a few days after the election. “I did it on my own with my staff and the people on the ground because I ran a campaign for the people run by the people. And there was no special interest in that campaign.”

Santos‘s attorney last week in a statement called the reports about him a “shotgun blast of attacks” and claimed coverage of him was “defamatory” and attempted “to smear his good name.”

Mr. Santos hinted that he is mulling potential legal retaliation against reporters who “slandered” him.

“It was going to be a week I was going to be quiet anyway. But the New York Times. … I’m going to look through and see everything,” he said.

“And just like they nitpick at me, now it’s going to be my time to nitpick at both journalists who made it their mission to slander me across this country and across the world.”

Mr. Santos first ran for the 3rd District, which is composed of parts of Long Island and Queens, in 2020 and lost to incumbent Democrat then Rep. Tom Suozzi.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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