I, I, I. What does “I” or “me” even mean, coming from George Santos? If everything voters know about a candidate other than his party affiliation is a lie, were they really voting for him? In a dark red district the party affiliation is probably all that matters, but in swingy NY-03, not so much. Voters elected a guy descended from Holocaust survivors, with a degree from Baruch College, a career in the finance industry, a pet rescue charity, and a significant real estate portfolio. They got a guy not descended from Holocaust survivors, with no college degree, recent employment at a Ponzi scheme, no pet rescue charity, and not only no real estate portfolio but a record of evictions. Can Santos in any meaningful way claim voters elected him, the person he actually is?
Then again, saying “voters elected me” on questionable grounds is far from the most blatant lie he’s told, so of course he’s not self-conscious about making the claim.
In fact, what we know about Santos’ lies continues, unbelievably, to grow. At the time of the original New York Times report on his essentially fake identity, it didn’t seem like there could possibly be much left to uncover. And yet every couple of days there’s a new revelation. That Santos didn’t actually attend Baruch College, as he claimed, is old news. That he told the chair of the Nassau County GOP that he was a volleyball star at Baruch is new. Not just a star—one who led the team to a “league championship.” At the school he was lying about having attended.
During Santos’ time in Brazil more than a decade ago, the most significant lie we know of that Santos told was the criminal one, in which he fraudulently used checks belonging to a deceased former patient of his mother’s. That wasn’t a victimless crime. Mother Jones reports that a store clerk who accepted Santos’ fraudulent checks had to pay back more than $1,300 to cover what Santos stole. But Santos’ lies in Brazil are still coming to light, with a television show now reporting that Santos used multiple different names and nationalities on dating apps in the country. While Santos can legitimately claim two nationalities—Brazilian and U.S.—there’s no credible evidence that he’s Russian, which he also claimed.
Voters have a reasonable expectation that biographical information from a major party nominee for Congress is more reliable than biographical information from some rando on a dating site, but this highlights that Santos didn’t just start lying to get elected to Congress. He’s a longtime prolific liar who doesn’t just lie for fun. He lies to get things from people. But getting elected to Congress was probably the biggest thing he’s gotten from his lies—and there’s no doubt that it was his lies that made him look like a serious candidate.
But despite all this, Santos will maintain the support of House Republican leadership because they need him too much to do the right thing. On Wednesday, McCarthy chimed in with a “but the voters” message similar to Santos’ tweet, telling reporters, “He has to answer to the voters”—something that conveniently won’t happen for nearly two years—and “it’s the voters who made that decision he has to answer to the voters, and the voters get to make another decision in two years.” And Kevin McCarthy is not worrying about two years from now. He’s trying to survive day to day with a narrow Republican majority and substantial internal opposition.
Santos is under criminal investigation by federal and local prosecutors, so we may yet get to see whether McCarthy will stick by him through criminal charges in this country in addition to the ones outstanding in Brazil. And honestly, I wouldn’t bet against it.
George Santos will have to be dragged out in cuffs.
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