NY Rep.-elect Santos investigated for lying about his past
Wednesday, December 28, 2022 | 4:22 pm
NEW YORK – Newly elected U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York was under investigation by Long Island prosecutors on Wednesday after it was revealed the embattled Republican lied about his heritage, education and professional background while campaigning for post.
Despite intensifying doubts about his ability to hold federal office, Santos has shown no sign of going away — even as he publicly admitted to a long list of lies.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly, a Republican, said the fabrications and inconsistencies were “nothing short of stunning.”
“Residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district deserve an honest and accountable representative in Congress,” she said. “If a crime is committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”
Santos’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
He is scheduled to be sworn in next Tuesday, when the US House of Representatives reconvenes. If he takes office, he could face investigations by the House Ethics Committee and the Justice Department.
The Republican has admitted he lied about his Jewish ancestry, a Wall Street background and a college degree, but he has yet to address other lingering questions — including the source of what appears to be a fortune he quickly amassed despite his troubles financial last, including evictions and evictions and owing thousands in rent.
Long Island Republican Rep. Nick Lalota said he was troubled by the revelations.
“I believe a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement is warranted,” Lalota said Tuesday.
The New York Attorney General’s office has already said it is looking into the issues that have come to light.
A spokesman for the Nassau County DA’s office, Brendan Brosh, said Wednesday: “We are looking into the matter.” The scope of the investigation was not immediately clear.
Other Republicans condemned Santos but stopped short of asking him to step down.
“Congressman-elect George Santos has violated the public trust by making serious misrepresentations about his background, experience and education, among other issues,” said Joseph G. Cairo, chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee, who is in 3rd Congressional District.
The questions intensified after The New York Times examined the narrative that Santos, 34, presented to voters during his successful campaign for a congressional district that straddles the North Shore suburbs of Long Island and part of Queens.
The Times uncovered records in Brazil showing Santos was the subject of a criminal investigation there in 2008 over allegations he used stolen checks to buy items at a clothing store in the city of Niteroi. At the time, Santos would have been 19 years old. The Times quoted local prosecutors as saying the case was dormant because Santos never appeared in court.
Santos continued to deny that he was wanted by authorities in South America.
Democrats jumped in, calling Santos a serial fabulist and demanding that he voluntarily step down.
In an interview with the New York Post earlier this week, Santos apologized for his fabrications but downplayed them as “sins” for embellishing his resume, adding that “we do stupid things in life.”
He admitted to lying about working for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, as well as earning a degree in finance and economics from Baruch College in New York.
Beyond his resume, Santos concocted a life story that has also been called into question, including claims that his grandparents “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and fled persecution again during World War II.”
During his campaign, he called himself “a proud American Jew.”
He backed away from this claim, saying he never intended to claim Jewish heritage, which would likely have boosted his appeal among his district’s significant Jewish voters.
“I’m Catholic,” he told the Post. “Because I learned that my family on my mother’s side was of Jewish descent, I said I was ‘Jewish’.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Jewish Republican Coalition repudiated Santos.
“He deceived us and misrepresented his legacy. In public comments and for us personally, he previously claimed to be Jewish,” the coalition said. “He will not be welcome at any future RJC events.”
On Fox News Tuesday night, Santos was subjected to withering questioning from former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who was sitting in for Tucker Carlson.
“You don’t seem to be taking this seriously,” she told him.
“You apologized, you said you made mistakes, but you completely lied. A lie is not an embellishment on a resume,” she said.
“Look, I agree with what you’re saying,” Santos replied. “We can argue about my resume and how I’ve worked with firms like—”
“Is it controversial?” interjected Gabbard. “Or is it just fake?”
“No, it’s not fake at all,” he said. “It’s debatable.”
Santos lost his first race for Congress in 2020, but successfully ran again this year.
In its opposition investigation of Santos, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised several red flags about the Republican’s record — but also accepted some of his assertions, including his educational record, as fact. The 87-page dossier sought to link him to the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol and his support for baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. The report also sought to paint him as a far-right candidate. But buried within its report, the DCCC had raised issues about his poor financial condition and multiple evictions that left him thousands of dollars in debt.
Federal campaign records show he loaned his campaign more than $700,000, but the source of that money has not yet been explained.
While his Democratic opponent, Robert Zimmerman, also tried to lift Santos’ misrepresentations during his losing campaign, he didn’t gain much traction.
Zimmerman has said Santos is unfit for office and called on him to step down so a special election can be held.