Robert Zimmerman, who lost to George Santos in the race for the 3rd Congressional District, said the fabulist should resign for lying to voters about virtually everything about himself.
Zimmerman also recommends that he and Santos then have a rematch.
We agree that Santos should resign for defrauding the voters of northern Nassau County and northeast Queens with an avalanche of lies.
But we doubt that the Nassau Democratic or Republican parties or Santos would go along with a rematch of the two candidates.
And almost all Nassau Democratic and Republican officials have stopped short of calling for Santos to give up the House seat he was sworn in to represent on Tuesday.
Prominent Nassau Democrats and Republicans have instead stuck with calls for law enforcement to investigate Santos or other lesser remedies.
Nassau Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo, who selected Santos to represent Republicans in the 3rd District in 2020 and 2022, said the county GOP will not be supporting Santos in 2024. But Cairo said Santos should still serve as a congressman this cycle.
This is an awfully low bar for future candidates with a very perverse incentive. Make up your entire history, get elected, serve one term and collect a pension.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman called for a probe into Santos’ background. He also told CNN that the congressman-elect “has emotional issues” that need to be addressed.
“While I was very angry with him when he first announced that those were lies, the fact of the matter is I feel sad for him now and I think he needs help and I think he needs to address those emotional issues,” Blakeman said.
But who exactly is going to force Santos to get professional help? And is Blakeman OK with residents of the 3rd District having a mentally troubled person representing them for the next two years?
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, who endorsed and then campaigned with Santos, said her “disappointment is extreme and personal as I was deceived when asked to endorse him.”
She called for federal and state investigations and said that if Santos serves he would not be “welcome at any program or event in the Town of North Hempstead that I am a part of.”
But she stopped short of calling for his resignation – even at the cost of being represented in Congress by someone town Republicans are shunning.
Rep.-elect Nick LaLota, a Republican from Long Island, said in a statement that Santos should be investigated by the House Ethics Committee and possibly law enforcement
Other local Republicans have yet to be heard from, including Presiding Officer Nassau County Legislature Richard Nicolello, state Senator-elect Jack Martins and state Assemblyman Ed Ra.
Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic CD3 election primary called for Santos’ removal from office.
State Sen. Anna Kaplan, a Democrat who lost her re-election bid to Martins, said at a “Hold Santos Accountable” press conference that Santos “must be investigated by all appropriate authorities.”
But Kaplan and Lafazan like other elected officials never called for Santos to resign in the name of honor, decency and service to the voters of the 3rd Congressional District.
Former 3rd District Rep. Steve Israel, in a letter published by The Atlantic, perhaps explained the reluctance of some elected officials to call for his resignation based on lying over and over and over.
“Politicians embellish résumés; if that were a crime, every candidate in America would be in prison,” Israel said, before noting that the volume of Santos’ lies is “an assault on democratic norms.”
Still, some Republican supporters point to lies told by Democratic politicians who have not been forced to step down and claim a double standard.
This is, of course, like comparing a driver caught going 30 mph in a 25 mph school zone with a drunk driver going 110 mph in the same school zone.
This can be seen in the seemingly endless list of apparent and admitted lies Santos has told about his professional background, educational history and property ownership that continued to grow last week.
They now include claiming he was a “grandson of Holocaust refugees,” he was Jewish, he was half black, he attended the prestigious Horace Mann School in the Bronx, his mother was in the South Tower on 9/11 and died a few years later, he was treated for a brain tumor, graduated from Baruch College and New York University, he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, formed an animal rescue group as a tax-exempt organization, he had a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties in Queens, and owned “a mansion” on Tiffany Lane in Oyster Bay Cove and “a mansion” on Dune Road in the Hamptons, he lost four employees at the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.
Santos also reported an income of $55,000 in his unsuccessful 2020 race for Congress against Tom Suozzi.
But in 2022, he claimed in financial disclosure forms a $750,000 salary and $1 million to $5 million in dividends from his “family firm,” the Devolder Organization. He said he earned the salary and dividends by managing $80 million in assets at Devolder.
Fortunately, Nassau officials’ calls for investigations have been answered.
Prosecutors are reportedly scrutinizing his financial disclosure forms as well as his campaign expenditures.
State Attorney General Letitia James announced her office would investigate Santos, followed by Republican Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donelly and Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Donnelly called the falsehoods in Santos’ personal and professional life that were publicized by The New York Times “nothing short of stunning.”
“The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the 3rd District must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress,” Donnelly continued. “No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”
There is another potential recourse to voters of the 3rd Congressional District short of locking Santos up and holding a special election – the House of Representatives.
But as Nassau Republicans criticized Santos, the House Republican leadership has remained virtually silent.
The New York Post had reported earlier that Santos’ professional biography became a “running joke” among senior House Republicans. But they did nothing.
One reason is that Republicans have a razor-thin edge in the House and need all the votes they can get to move forward with their agenda such as it is.
A second is that Santos declared his support for then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at a time when McCarthy could only afford four defections to win the vote for House speaker.
But perhaps more important would be the difficulty for House Republicans to justify punishing Santos when they have spent the last four years ignoring the lies and misdeeds of President Trump and other members of their own caucus.
Some 150 of the Republicans who were elected in 2022 falsely denied that President Biden won in a free and fair election.
More than two-thirds of the Republican caucus voted not to certify the 2020 presidential election – after a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol as part of a campaign orchestrated by President Donald Trump.
Trump, who remains the favorite to be the Republicans’ nominee in 2024, told more than 30,000 lies as president, according to a count by the Washington Post.
This includes the Big Lie – the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen – to rally his supporters in an effort to overturn the election. Something that he continues to falsely claim two years after the 2020 election.
And in 2022, Republican voters punished the members of the GOP who sought to hold Trump accountable for his campaign to undermine democracy in the United States with his lies.
Santos is, if anything, a poor man’s Donald Trump using lies to gain elective office. This includes the false claim by both men that they were self-made millionaires.
So why punish Santos and support Trump?
Honor, decency and the needs of 3rd District residents are good reasons.
But don’t count on either Democratic or Republican elected officials to demand it.