Droves of elected officials throughout New York and the nation have bashed Republican Congressman-elect George Santos for allegedly providing false educational and professional experience for his biography after The New York Times unearthed the discrepancies earlier this week.
Santos, who was elected to the state’s 3rd Congressional District in November, was accused by The Times of lying about earning degrees from NYU and Baruch College as well as working for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Neither college could confirm his enrollment to multiple media outlets while neither company could confirm his employment.
Robert Zimmerman, the Democrat Santos defeated in the November election, said in a statement the Republican has violated the public’s trust and called on him to resign from his position.
“The reality is Santos flat-out lied to the voters of NY-03. He’s violated the public trust in order to win office and does not deserve to represent Long Island and Queens,” Zimmerman said. “Santos’ failure to answer any of the questions about these allegations demonstrates why he is unfit for public office and should resign. It demonstrates why there must be a House Ethics Committee, Federal Elections Commission, and U.S. Attorney investigation immediately.”
Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan (D-Woodbury), who lost to Zimmerman in the Democratic Primary election earlier this year, held a press conference on Tuesday calling for Santos to resign. Melanie D’Arrigo, who also ran in the Democratic Primary against Lafazan and Zimmerman, bashed Devolder-Santos in a tweet.
“So the Republican who directed a Ponzi scheme, financially supported insurrectionists, attended a gala with white supremacists, and had his election campaign funded by a Putin-aligned oligarch may have also invented his entire back story?” D’Arrigo tweeted.
Democrat Laura Gillen, who also lost to Republican Anthony D’Esposito in the state’s 4th Congressional District race, praised The Times for its reporting “on the kind of fiction the Nassau County GOP regularly serves up to voters.”
Joseph G. Cairo Jr., chairman of the Nassau County Republican Party, told the Times that the allegations raised “serious” issues that he believed Santos should address.
Efforts to reach officials from Cairo or the New York state Republican Party for further comment were unavailing.
Santos, in a previously-published biography on his campaign website, described himself as “an associate asset manager” in Citigroup, but a company spokesperson told The Times that they could not confirm his employment. The spokesperson also said Citi sold off its asset management operations in 2005 and was unfamiliar with Santos’ job title listed on his biography.
A Goldman Sachs spokesperson also failed to confirm Santos’ employment, while the Republican did not list a specific time frame for his time at the companies in biographies.
The Times also questioned the tax-exempt classification of Santos’ charity, Friends of Pets United.
The Internal Revenue Service was unable to provide The Times with any information showing that the charity had tax-exempt status. The charity’s 2017 fund-raising event had a $50 entry charge, according to the newspaper, but a representative from the event’s beneficiary said it did not receive any of the proceeds.
The congressman-elect was also reportedly fined more than $12,000 in May 2017 after a Queens landlord claimed he was owed more than $10,000 in rent over a five-month period.
Additionally, Santos called out tenants for “taking advantage” of rental assistance offered during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming he and his family had not been paid rent on their 13 properties in nearly a year, according to the Times.
The Times’ analysis of property records databases in Nassau County and New York City did not show any deeds associated with anyone in the Santos family or their company, the Devolder Organization.
Santos described the company, according to the Times, as one that managed $80 million in assets. The Republican also described it as a capital introduction consulting company on his congressional financial disclosure forms.
Several election law experts told the Times that omitting the company’s clients on the financial reports “could be problematic” if the clients exist.
Santos loaned his campaign more than $700,000 during this year’s election cycle while donating thousands more to other candidates over the last two years, according to the Times. The Republican reported a $750,000 salary and more than $1 million in dividends from the Devolder Organization, according to the Times.
The Times also reported that in 2008, when Santos was 19, he stole the checkbook of a man his mother was caring for, according to Brazilian court records.
Police and court records show that Santos used the checkbook to make fraudulent purchases, including a pair of shoes. Two years later, Santos confessed to the crime and was later charged.
The court and local prosecutor in Brazil confirmed the case remains unresolved, the Times reported. Santos did not respond to an official summons, and a court representative could not find him at his given address, records show.
Joseph Murray, Santos’ attorney, released a statement in response to The Times article, saying the publication was “attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations.”
“George Santos represents the kind of progress that the Left is so threatened by a gay, Latino, first-generation American and Republican who won a Biden district in overwhelming fashion by showing everyday voters that there is a better option than the broken promises and failed policies of the Democratic Party,” Murray continued.
Murray did not deny any of the allegations made in The Times article in his statement.
The Times report has garnered a national reaction from political pundits and commentators, including Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer for the Washington Post.
“Utter fraud, if accurate,” Rubin tweeted in response to The Times article Monday. “Must step down. Need special election.”
“Can the American people trust anything that Extreme MAGA Republicans like George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene have to say?” U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) tweeted.
The Lincoln Project, a political action committee formed in 2019 by Republicans to oust former President Donald Trump from the White House, criticized Santos for the allegations laid out in the article and the failure of Democrats to uncover his inconsistent accounts during the campaign.
Rick Wilson, co-founder and board member of the committee, said the “George Santos story is political malpractice from the Democrats.”
Nassau County and New York state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs told The Times that Congressional Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) should delay seating Devolder-Santos pending a probe into the allegations.
Efforts to reach Jacobs for further comment were unavailing.
Santos recently took to Twitter in support of McCarthy becoming the new House speaker on Twitter.
“We have the opportunity of a lifetime to deliver results for the American people,” Santos tweeted Sunday. “We MUST give the gavel to [Kevin McCarthy] to ensure we stop the disastrous policies the Dems have pushed for the last 2 years.”
Kevin Madden, a top aide for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, told Newsday that the chances that an Ethics Committee investigation be launched into Santos are small.
“McCarthy is sitting on a razor-thin congressional majority, so his default position will likely be to say the people of New York’s 3rd Congressional District made their decision and he’ll abide by it,” Madden told Newsday.
Republicans have a 222-213 majority in Congress for the first time since 2018 following the results of this year’s midterm elections.
Santos has been criticized by Democratic officials for his ties to far-right politicians such as U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose recent comments about the Jan. 6 insurrection landed her in hot water with the White House.
Greene was criticized for saying at the Young Republicans dinner in Manhattan that Santos attended that the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol building would have featured “armed” rioters if she and Steve Bannon, the chief strategist under former President Donald Trump, had organized it.
Santos was quoted as saying he was “at the Ellipse on Jan. 6,” the day of rioting at the U.S. Capitol, and is quoted on video saying he “wrote a nice check for a law firm” to aid the rioters who stormed the building.
Additionally, data from the Federal Election Commission revealed the Republican received nearly $30,000 in campaign donations from Andrew Intrater, the cousin of Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekslberg, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Vekselberg, who was born in Ukraine, made his first million from selling scrap copper before purchasing several aluminum smelters and forming the conglomerate Sual Holding in 1996, according to Forbes. Vekselberg merged Sual Holding with Russian Alumnium to create UC Rusal.
The oligarch’s $90 million, 255-foot yacht was seized by the Spanish government in April at the order of the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice said the yacht “was subject to forfeiture based on violations of U.S. bank fraud, money laundering, and sanction statutes.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission also accused Harbor City Capital, Santos’ alleged most recent employer, of operating a $6 million Ponzi scheme.
Harbor City allegedly used $6.5 million of the $17.1 million it raised from clients to repay early buyers of its securities while misrepresenting those transactions as returns on investment, officials said in a complaint.
Santos, who was named Harbor City’s New York regional director in June 2020 but was not named in the complaint filed by the SEC in April 2021, told The Daily Beast that he was “as distraught and disturbed as everyone else is” by the allegations.