If one is against politics as usual — “usual” being defined as employing lying, cheating, flattery, toadying and other forms of chicanery to bump one’s way up the rungs of the power structure’s scaffolding — then it has to include holding politicians accountable, even when they’re on the same side.
That’s why conservatives need to insist that the incoming House GOP leadership take a good look at Rep.-elect George Santos, and ask if Republicans really want him in their razor-thin majority.
In retrospect, we should have known. Santos’ backstory was too good to be true. While campaigning for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, based in the New York City borough of Queens and other parts of Long Island, he presented himself as a graduate of Baruch College who had worked with Goldman Sachs and Citigroup; openly claiming to be gay, he became the first out LGBT Republican who wasn’t an incumbent elected to the House of Representatives.
Not only that, there was a tear-jerker in his distant family past: According to Santos, his grandparents were Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, and he stated on his website that his mother was Jewish, as well. In New York City — the metro area with the second-most Jewish people in the world after Tel Aviv, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, and home to over 10 percent of the world’s Jewry — that’s a story that resonates with voters.
“My grandparents survived the Holocaust, so these regimes of socialism, Marxism, they don’t work,” Santos said, according to WABC-TV. After fleeing both the Nazis and the communists, his grandfather fled to Brazil.
“Fleeing Stalin’s persecution, going to Belgium, finding refuge there, marrying my grandmother, then fleeing Hitler going to Brazil. That’s a story of perseverance,” he said.
Emphasis on story. Because, pretty much everything I’ve just told you — well, to quote the immortal Jeannie Bueller regarding whether her brother Ferris was really sick, “Dry that one out and you can fertilize the lawn.” In this case, you could fertilize the pasture.
According to the New York Post, Santos chose the day after Christmas to confirm to a New York radio station that a) pretty much all of the reporting alleging he fabricated his entire backstory had at least some truth to it and b) he didn’t plan to step aside and insists he’ll serve out the entirety of his term in the House — and more, perhaps.
“My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry,” Santos told WABC-AM.
“I am not a criminal,” he added. “This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”
I’ll give Santos this much: He was extraordinarily effective at keeping the media from discovering he was a fraud until Dec. 19. That’s when The New York Times finally got around to publishing a background check on a man whose victory “helped Republicans clinch a narrow majority in the House of Representatives” and noted it bore little resemblance to what he was saying about himself.
“By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a ‘seasoned Wall Street financier and investor’ with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats,” the Times reported.
Except: “Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.
“There was also little evidence that his animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, was, as Mr. Santos claimed, a tax-exempt organization: The Internal Revenue Service could locate no record of a registered charity with that name.”
Furthermore, “new revelations uncovered by The Times — including the omission of key information on Mr. Santos’s personal financial disclosures, and criminal charges for check fraud in Brazil — have the potential to create ethical and possibly legal challenges once he takes office.”
There were also questions about where Santos’ wealth came from. It exists, mind you; not only did he lend his campaign $700,000, he reported a $750,000 salary with $1 million in dividends from a family-run firm called the Devolder Organization — yet it has no presence on either the web or LinkedIn.
“On his congressional financial disclosure, he described it as a capital introduction consulting company, a type of boutique firm that serves as a liaison between investment funds and deep-pocketed investors. But Mr. Santos’s disclosures did not reveal any clients, an omission three election law experts said could be problematic if such clients exist,” the Times reported.
Santos’ lawyer, Joe Murray, said in a statement it was “no surprise that Congressman-elect Santos has enemies at The New York Times who are attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations.”
While there’s little doubt that Santos has enemies at the Times, that doesn’t automatically make them wrong, befouled though the newspaper obviously is — and the hits just kept on coming.
WABC-TV reported that despite Santos’ claim his grandparents fled the Holocaust and communism, genealogical records show they were both born in Brazil, a country neither known for its Nazi death camps nor being part of the Soviet bloc.
The Daily Beast, meanwhile, noted that up until shortly before he launched a 2020 campaign against incumbent Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi, he had been married to a woman. Not that this doesn’t exclude one from being gay — but given the totality of the circumstances, it certainly reeks of laundering his electability through the identity politics machine.
A few days before Christmas, Santos tweeted this:
To the people of #NY03 I have my story to tell and it will be told next week. I want to assure everyone that I will address your questions and that I remain committed to deliver the results I campaigned on; Public safety, Inflation, Education & more.
Happy Holidays to all!
— George Santos (@Santos4Congress) December 22, 2022
He addressed it all Monday — arguably the one weekday of the year when the fewest people would be paying attention — and confirmed that, yeah, he’s basically a fraud. He could have told us all that in the tweet and not wasted our time, but, no: He gave us this instead.
First, his education: “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.”
OK. What about Goldman Sachs and Citigroup? That was another stupid thing in life, apparently, since he claims he “never worked directly” for either firm and it was a “poor choice of words.” Instead, he was a vice president at a company called Link Bridge, which he says worked with both companies.
“I will be clearer about that. It was stated poorly,” Santos said, apparently before also confirming water is indeed wet and members of the ursine family do tend to relieve the contents of their bowels in wooded areas.
As for the Judaism/Holocaust part: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Santos said he’s now “clearly Catholic” but insisted his grandmother had talked to him about the family’s Jewish past and how she had converted to Catholicism.
“I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos said. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
I’m sorry — did I wake up on Christmas morning and was suddenly transported into a sitcom world where an elected politician swears he didn’t mean his family was Jewish, just “Jew-ish”? Because that’s apparently where we are now.
In case you’ve forgotten, Judaism is passed down through matrilineal descent –, which means that, according to Jewish law, Santos would be technically Jewish if his mother is. Consider the other loopholes this incompetent artificer is willing to cling to. By calling himself “Jew-ish” instead of “Jewish,” he’s confirming that he knows he’s neither.
And the icing on the cake: “The soon-to-be lawmaker confirmed to the Post on Monday that he was indeed married to a woman for about five years, from 2012 until his divorce in 2017, but insisted that he is now a happily married gay man,” the New York Post reported.
So he’s clearly gay and clearly in a gay “marriage” — the same way he’s “clearly Catholic,” a religion whose catechism holds same-sex relationships “are acts of grave depravity … contrary to the natural law … do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity … [and] Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
There’s other stuff, too — according to the Times, he’s a deadbeat tenant who was forced by a judge to pay $12,000 to a past landlord but never did, claiming “I completely forgot about it”; he lied about owning 13 different properties; etc. — but you get the point.
This is bad enough. Worse: The GOP establishment seems to have known about much of this and just shrugged it off.
“Senior House Republicans were apparently aware of the inaccuracies and embellishments in the Rep.-elect’s resume, and the topic became a ‘running joke,’ multiple insiders close to House GOP leadership told The Post over the weekend,” the New York Post reported.
“As far as questions about George in general, that was always something that was brought up whenever we talked about this race,” one Republican leadership aide said. “It was a running joke at a certain point. This is the second time he’s run and these issues we assumed would be worked out by the voters.”
Surprise! They didn’t.
Now, it’s the Republican leadership’s responsibility.
Naturally, the political environment doesn’t make this an easy position. As the Post pointed out, Santos is a “critical part” of the Republicans’ majority of 222 members to Democrats’ 213. And the fact that he was elected in a district that had been in Democratic hands for a decade prior means there’s no guarantee that the next member from New York’s 3rd will be sporting an elephant jersey.
But Republicans need to ask themselves if they really want a guy like Santos in the House. Or maybe, through a combination of public and private pressure — say, denying him seats on any committees — the new House leadership might be able to make it clear to Santos and the American people that charlatans aren’t welcome in their ranks.
Maybe they could facilitate Santos’ early departure from office with a resignation so he can spend more time with his family.
Your turn, GOP establishment. You helped make this mess. Through your silence, you helped facilitate the election of a scammer so transparent even Sam Bankman-Fried would have seen right through him. Politics-as-usual playtime is over, especially now that this dunce of a con man plans to take his seat on Capitol Hill and hold it for at least two years. You clean this up.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.