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By Marco Flores

         George Santos, the scandal-plagued Republican Congressman of New York’s 3rd district, has been under scrutiny ever since the NY Times published a bombshell article on December 19th, 2022, revealing that Santos had largely fabricated his resume. Santos made false claims about his biography, work history, financial status, and other matters when he ran for Congress. Despite his constituents, Democrats, and even some Republicans all calling for his resignation, Santos refused and stated that he will run for reelection in 2024. While politics is a dirty business, Santos took the art of lying to a whole new level. By embellishing his resume and creating a fake persona of a gay moderate Republican with a successful career at Wall Street and running an animal rescue group, Santos scammed voters of a Biden +8 district in Long Island into electing him. However, a month following his election win, several news outlets exposed Santos as a fraud.

Santos claimed his grandparents were Ukrainian survivors of the Holocaust. However, genealogy records revealed those claims were false and that they were born in Brazil. When questioned about his faith, Santos responded by saying “I never claimed to be Jewish…I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’” Santos claimed he earned a degree in economics and finance at Baruch College at the top of his class, was the star of the Baruch volleyball team, and earned an M.B.A. at NYU. Both schools released statements revealing that Santos never attended either of those schools.

In 2011, Brazilian authorities arrested Santos and was charged with check fraud after stealing a checkbook and using it to purchase a pair of shoes. The case was left unresolved in 2013 due to Santos skipping his court date. The case was revived in late 2022. Santos accepted a plea deal and agreed to pay around $5,000. Santos was accused of fraudulently collecting more than $24,000 in unemployment benefits by illegally applying for unemployment benefits in June 2020, after the program was expanded to help people out of work due to the pandemic, despite already earning an annual salary of around $120,000 as regional director of a Florida-based investment firm. Santos allegedly stole money from a disabled veteran named Richard Osthoff who came to him for help with paying for a life-saving surgery for his dog. Santos set up a GoFundMe that raised $3,000 needed for the surgery, but Osthoff never received the money. The dog died less than a year later.

On his campaign website, Santos claimed to be a Wall Street financier and investor who worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, but neither company has record of his employment. What about “Friends of Pets United,” Santos’ supposed animal rescue charity? Also false. There weren’t any social media accounts for the organization, IRS records, nor evidence of registration in New York or New Jersey, where Santos claimed to have operated.

In a June 2021 post on X, Santos wrote that the 9/11 attacks “claimed my mother’s life.” In December of that same year, he claimed his mom had been dead for 6 years. On his campaign website, Santos claimed that his mom was in the South Tower on 9/11 and that she died from cancer a few years later. There were no records confirming her suffering from health problems caused by toxic debris following the attacks. Weeks later, two genealogists uncovered documents revealing that his mother was in Brazil in September 2001. 9/11 wasn’t the only tragedy Santos exploited. During an interview with WNYC, Santos said he lost four employees in the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, but the NY Times debunked those claims.

In May 2023, Santos was indicted on 13 criminal charges: seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. California Democrat Congressman Robert Garcia and other House Democrats introduced a resolution to expel Santos, requiring a two-thirds vote. Since an expulsion motion is privileged, a vote was scheduled within two legislative days. The resolution failed in a 221–204 vote along party lines and it was instead referred to the Ethics committee. After Santos was indicted on additional charges in October, NY Republican Congressman Anthony D’Esposito and other five NY Republican House freshmen introduced a second expulsion resolution. The attempt failed on November 1st with the vote being 213-179, with 19 voting present. Support was mostly from Democrats, joined by 24 Republicans, while 31 Democrats joined Republicans in opposing. On November 16, the House Ethics Committee released its report, detailing the eight-month investigation into Santos and his campaign. The report stated that he broke federal laws by stealing money from his campaign for his own personal use, including money raised for RedStone Strategies that donors were told would be used on campaigns. This includes over $4,000 to Hermés, plastic surgery and Botox, payments of personal credit card bills, personal travel to Atlantic City and Las Vegas, and a small amount on OnlyFans subscriptions. Because of this damning report, a growing list of Republicans who previously voted to keep Santos now support expelling him. Santos announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection. On December 1st, the House voted 311-114 to expel Santos from Congress, making him only the sixth lawmaker ever to be expelled. Ohio Republican Congressman Max Miller said that Santos personally defrauded him and his mother by charging their credit cards without authorization.

When a political system is so broken, serial liars like Santos are able to slip through the cracks and get themselves elected to public office. Because Republicans didn’t properly vet him and Democrats didn’t do any opposition research, Santos managed to get elected. By the time the lies were exposed, it was already too late. After surviving two expulsion attempts, Santos’s tumultuous term in Congress has finally ended after the third attempt resulted in his expulison.

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