Rep. George Santos (R-NY) comes across as a modern Frank William Abagnale Jr., both men living fictional lives and keeping the truth hidden from the public eye. Unlike Abagnale, Santos never claimed to be an assistant attorney general, a doctor or a Pan Am pilot. Santos was an “associate asset manager” at Citigroup, employee at Goldman Sachs, a Baruch College and NYU graduate, charity founder and property owner — except only on paper.
However, both men do have one thing in common: they committed check fraud. Abagnale whitewashed checks and had them rerouted while Santos stole a checkbook in Brazil in 2008 and used those stolen checks.
For those unaware, Santos is the representative for New York’s 3rd congressional district. He is a Republican and won against incumbent Tom Zuozzi, a Democrat, during the 2022 midterms after losing to him in 2020. After winning the race, a New York Times’ lengthy investigation revealed many falsehoods that came from Santos on the campaign trail and his website. Many news outlets followed suit and he has become a big name in politics now for all the wrong reasons.
All of the claims listed earlier are just a few examples of the lies Santos has told. He did not graduate from Baruch College with a bachelor’s degree or study at NYU; he later admitted that he did not graduate from any institution of higher education.
Much of his professional resume was false. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have no record that he ever worked there. The charity he claimed to have founded, Friends of Pets United, is dubious, as the IRS and New York attorney general could not find evidence of it being registered as a non-profit. He and his family also do not own 13 properties.
Other highlights of his lies include the claim that his Jewish grandparents escaped persecution during World War II and fled to Brazil, but his grandparents are actually Catholic, so now he claims he is “Jew-ish.” He also claimed that he “lost four employees” during the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 — he later changed the claim and said those four people were in the process of being hired for a company he was starting up.
He is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee and is being pressured to resign due to his numerous lies. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy even said Santos would be removed from office if the Ethics Committee finds he has broken the law.
To me, his political affiliation is irrelevant and so are his policies and political stances. What matters to me is how neither party investigated or exposed his lies during the campaign.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, a powerful Republican figure in New York politics, is being placed under scrutiny for backing Santos and convincing numerous other donors to do the same. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she did not know the extent of Santos’ falsehoods, but I do believe she at least knew about some of them.
For the Democrats, the only mention of Santos’ lies that can really be found before the midterms was a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) piece where Friends of Pets United and its lack of tax-exempt status was briefly discussed.
Both parties should have done their research and exposed his lies. Democrats should have investigated these easily verifiable claims to use as ammunition during the midterms and expose him as a fraud. Republicans should have done the same, but to detach themselves from the situation and defend him if need be — which I do not think he deserves now.
It is crazy to me that none of that happened and he is now a House representative. People lie all the time, not just people in power. It’s something everyone does. When it comes to holding a position in political office though, there needs to be higher standards. I hope George Santos teaches us that we should be more diligent about fact-checking candidates and do some digging before they get elected. Whatever consequences come next from his lies are his own fault.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia