By now the name George Santos should ring a bell: A bombshell investigation by the New York Times revealed almost all of his claims about his personal and professional life made while campaigning (successfully!) for a House seat in New York turned out to be flat out false or seriously shady. These revelations didn’t come out until after Santos won his Long Island district with a pretty decisive eight-point victory that helped Republicans clinch a narrow majority in the House.
The breadth of 34-year-old Santos’ lies are pretty impressive, from claiming he worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to having Jewish grandparents that fled Europe during World War II. The entire scandal has rocked members of the media, who have been left scratching their heads on how these pretty significant lies went unearthed throughout Santos’ campaign. But just as importantly are the consequences of the lies themselves—as an incoming Congressman, they could create ethics violations and even legal challenges once he takes office in January.
The biography in question is still up on Santos’ website and the incoming Congressmen appeared to have responded to the Times story via his lawyer with a statement posted to his Twitter account that essentially blamed “the Left ” and a quote often misattributed to Winston Churchill (“you have enemies? Good. it means that you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”)* We have a strong suspicion that standing up for a fraudulent college degree and Wall Street pedigree wasn’t what was intended by the quote, but anyway—it gets better: On Thursday Santos announced he would be addressing questions and telling his side of the story, but voters would have to wait until next week. Sometimes a man needs time to put together a strategically positioned response to the question ‘where did you go to college,’ OK?
We decided to round up all of lies that Santos has been accused of lying about so far so we’re ready for next week:
Graduating from Baruch College
Santos claims that in 2010 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Baruch College, a public university in New York City. Yet the school was unable to find any records, even using multiple variations of his first, middle and last name, of having graduated that year.
Having Jewish grandparents
This lie feels especially egregious. Santos says his grandparents survived the Holocaust as Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium. But according to Forward, a Jewish, independent newsroom, Santos’ heritage is actually Brazilian, and his grandparents were apparently born in Brazil before the Nazis rose to power. Santos’ mother, Fatima Devolder, was found to have regularly shared Christian imagery and liked multiple Facebook pages with Brazil-based Christian organizations.
Losing employees in the Pulse nightclub shooting
During an interview with WNYC while campaigning, Santos said “people that work for me” were impacted during the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando back in 2016. According to Santos he lost four employees, but after reviewing obituaries, The Times found none of the 49 victims appear to have worked at the various firms Santos name drops in his biography and while campaigning.
Running an animal charity
Friends of Pets is a charity that Santos claims he founded from 2013 to 2018, which acted as an animal rescue operation that rescued 2,400 dogs and 280 cats. Surprise: the Internal Revenue Service couldn’t find any record of a registered charity with that name.
Working at Citigroup
Santos has said he worked at the company as an associate asset manager within Citigroup’s real estate division. A spokeswoman for the company told The Times not only could she not confirm Santos’ employment, the company was unfamiliar with his self-described job title and that Citi had sold off its asset management operations in 2005—when Santos would have been just 17 years old. Goldman Sachs, another purported employer according to Santos, could find no record of him ever working for them.
Owning rental property
Further playing into his purported real estate expertise, Santos claimed, as a landlord, he was hurt by Covid-19 related eviction protections given to renters. He went so far as saying he had not received nearly one year’s worth of rent on 13 properties. Yet, Santos did not list any properties on required financial disclosure forms, only one was mentioned—an apartment in Brazil. What makes this lie particularly spicy is the fact that The Times found that Santos actually faced multiple evictions as a renter, even being fined about $12,000 in a civil judgment.
The Devolder Organization
Santos says Devolder is his “family’s firm” that managed $80 million in assets and described it as a capital introduction consulting company. Is this a lie? It’s unclear: The Times could not find any of the company’s public-facing assets or properties and Santos’ congressional financial disclosures didn’t include any either—despite Santos saying he was paid a $750,000 salary as the company’s sole owner, so definitely some odd behavior at the very least. Santos also says he earned dividends from Devolder that were somewhere between $1 million and $5 million, which is the same range the company is estimated to be valued at. According to the Times, Devolder eventually dissolved after failing to file an annual report.
What’s most noteworthy about the Devolder story is the fact that Santos appears to have not provided any information about the company’s clients that would have contributed to his payout—a violation of federal law to disclose any compensation in excess of $5,000 from a single source.
And in an even shadier turn of events: Talking Points Memo found that Santos has filed documents to have Devolder reinstated. Why? That could be the million dollar question.
Bonus-not-exactly-a-lie: Knowing about an alleged Ponzi scheme
Santos actually worked as regional director of Harby City Capital, a Florida-based investment company which attracted investors through YouTube videos and guarantees of double-digit returns. It quickly caught the eye of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused the company of running an ongoing Ponzi scheme just a year ago. Santos was not named in the lawsuit and he’s publicly denied having any knowledge of the scheme while working there. Maybe he’s not lying about this one! Still weird for a congressman-elect, though.
Correction, Dec. 27, 2022: This article originally misattributed to Churchill a quote about having enemies. It is often attributed to him, but he is not its source.