In the several decades of following politics, I have never known of a story where lies so egregiously and grandiosely told and spun took place regarding a winning congressional candidate. Where in the private sector can lies be so wildly created about one’s resume and that employee not immediately be up for termination? Other than some fringe voters on Long Island who are now able to claim they are not a bigot because ‘I voted for George Santos, a gay man’ there is truly little reason that he should not be rejected by the GOP House caucus.
While we all know that some people in business and politics embellish a CV, it needs to be noted that Santos fabricated a MAJOR portion of his personal biography. While political conservatives like to say they are better than liberals, adhere to higher morals, and are far more interested in good government, they now have a major stage and a national audience to put those words into practice. I do not say that as a partisan, but rather as one who finds the lowering of the bar for our politics, which Santos has furthered, to be of deep concern. The incoming speaker of the House, presumably Kevin McCarty, along with the top GOP leadership must absolutely repudiate and scorn Santos, and push his outlandish behavior and legal issues onto the top of the agenda for the House Ethics Committee. As of this posting, the House Republican leadership has been absent from speaking to the nation about this national disgrace.
While my strong sentiment expressed above is what our political institutions in our country need, and the voters would like to see our politics return to, I admit the odds of that happening are slim to none. But lacking such public accountability by the GOP regarding Santos or taking the appropriate action means reporters and the public must continuously press this issue again and again. The reasons to continue stressing why Santos is not suited to sit in the House are clear for all to see.
After the Christmas holiday, Santos gave two interviews where he admitted never working directly for the financial firms Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, though he was not reluctant to strongly suggest that he had when asking for votes. He also told The New York Post that he didn’t graduate from any college or university, despite claiming he had degrees from Baruch College and New York University. One thing that Santos did want to stress, apart from being forced to fess up for his phenomenal lies, was his belief he had not committed any crimes and sure does wish to serve in Congress.
“I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning. I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he told the Post, adding that “we do stupid things in life”. Well, at age 34, the voters and the general public have every right to think that doing the ‘stupid things in life’ ended in those crazy college days. Oh, yeah, right, well, not in George’s case. Voters expect their elected representatives to have at least some self-dignity. A major political party simply must demand its elected members conduct themselves with a higher degree of credibility.
The news reports about Santos kept rolling in over the holidays, which included the claims about his grandparents “surviving the Holocaust” as Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium. He had stated they changed their surname but his tale was contradicted by sources including family trees compiled by genealogy websites which undermined his lie. It was laughable to learn that the Santos “family firm’ that supposedly managed $80 million in assets was initially registered at a gynecologist’s office in a Florida office park. Most dishonorable is how Santos even gives conflicting accounts of his mother’s death!
He had told voters of his family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties but in the interviews after Christmas admitted he was not a landlord. He acknowledged owing thousands in unpaid rent. But in so doing a larger question then begs to be answered. If his money shortage is such that he has not paid rent how then in 2022 was he able to lend $700,000 to his congressional campaign? Intentionally omitting or misrepresenting information on a congressional financial disclosure is considered a federal crime. There is no way that Santos will be allowed to skirt away from this issue and if the GOP does not think they have a stink bomb attached to their neck with this embarrassment, they are only deluding themselves. Republicans must openly and forthrightly face the mess in their ranks.
Santos seems determined to point out that he had not committed a crime anywhere in the world. That would seem an odd statement to make, however, had it not been for The New York Times reporting they uncovered Brazilian court records showing that he had been charged with fraud as a young man after he was caught writing checks with a stolen checkbook.
The new House speaker, most likely Kevin McCarthy, will set a tone by deciding how to handle George Santos. The nation is watching to see if yet another deepening of the political basement will be allowed to occur. If Santos is seated and faces only bad headlines, it will send a clarion message to all who lack an ability for honesty to know, they too, can gain public office by falsifying their credentials. If Santos is seated and treated with only a slap to his hands it will further demonstrate the shallowness and hypocrisy of the message conservatives continually press. That would be a bad outcome for the GOP which has floundered with its national image since 2016. Worse yet, for the nation, where a strong majority desires that our political compass be recalibrated.