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  • Victoria A. Brownworth

Congressman-elect George Santos Facing Calls to Resign

December 21, 2022 PGN

George Santos, a gay Republican who has asserted he is the new face of the GOP, is facing calls to resign before he has even been sworn into office. Santos, 34, was elected to the previously Democratic 3rd district in New York in the midterms — a seat he had run for in 2020 and lost. Santos made history in the first congressional race that pitted two out gay male candidates against each other. His opponent, Democrat Robert Zimmerman, lost to Santos, 54.1% to 45.9%.

But over the past few days, questions have arisen over Santos’s resume. A story in the New York Times on Dec. 19 asked, “Who is Rep.-Elect George Santos? His résumé may be largely fiction. Mr. Santos, a Republican from New York, says he’s the ‘embodiment of the American dream.’ But he seems to have misrepresented a number of his career highlights.”

Cesar Toledo, Political Director for the Victory Fund, which endorsed Zimmerman, told PGN in October that Santos’s candidacy was problematic for LGBTQ people.

Toledo said, “Santos said abortion is barbaric. He praised [Florida governor] Ron DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which is antithetical to our freedom. He’s an election denier who bragged about supporting insurrectionists.”

Now it seems Santos is problematic for all New Yorkers. The allegations in the Times’ investigation portray Santos as a fabulist who invented or padded most of the résumé and personal biography he ran on.

Pressure is building on Santos to respond to the queries presented by the investigation or step down. As Rep. Adam Kinzinger of the January 6th Committee tweeted on Dec. 20 with a screen-grab of a statement from Santos’s attorney, Joseph Murray, Esq. “This isn’t going to go away.”

Murray said in a short statement that it was “a shotgun blast of attacks. It is no surprise that Congressman-elect Santos has enemies at The New York Times who are attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations.”

As PGN reported, Santos’s bio claimed he was a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor.” Santos presented himself as a man who had broken ground in a myriad of ways — as the son of Brazilian immigrants who had risen from a city college education to become a real estate mogul with more than a dozen properties. In addition, Santos proffered his philanthropic bona fides: he asserted that his animal rescue organization, “Friends of Pets United,” had saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.

It was that last component that may have been Santos’s undoing. An enterprising NYT reporter with a love for animals checked out that charity — only to find there was no record of it. “Friends of Pets United” does not appear in the IRS’s database. It is also not among registered charities in New York state.

That is far from the only conflicting data point in Santos’s story. The congressman-elect claimed to have worked on Wall Street for both Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. But both companies assert there is no record of Santos working at either firm in any capacity. Another aspect of Santos’s story is his post-graduate rise. But Baruch College from which Santos claimed to have graduated in 2010 has no record of him.

One point does seem true: Santos has money. He lent his own campaign more than $700,000 and has contributed thousands of dollars to other candidates. FEC filings show Santos reported a $750,000 salary and over $1 million in dividends from his company, the Devolder Organization. But there is no record of the properties Santos claims to manage and his firm does not appear anywhere. Additionally, Santos claimed $5 million in a savings account, $250,000 in a checking account and an apartment in Brazil worth $1 million. All of these holdings and accounts have been accrued since his 2020 run for Congress and appear on his two-page Financial Disclosure Report.

As part of his personal biography, Santos told WNYC in an interview that four of his employees had been killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016. The Times investigation found this to be another false claim.

The Times’ investigation also details “unresolved” criminal charges in Brazil as well as several evictions in New York. CBS News reports that Santos may have moved from his district address in August yet voted from that address in November.

Joshua Lafazan, legislator for Nassau County’s 18th district held a protest outside the Whitestone address where Santos is registered on Dec. 20. He said, “We’re standing here united, unapologetic and categorical in calling on Congressman-elect Santos to resign his position and election to the United States Congress.”

In his 2022 campaign, Santos received endorsements from chair of the House Republican Conference Rep. Elise Stefanik, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Lee Zeldin, and the New York Post, among others. In its endorsement of Santos, the New York Post wrote, “Republican George Santos, the son of Brazilian immigrants who became an investor, has centered his campaign on fighting crime, making America energy-independent and promoting economic growth to keep Long Island affordable. His opponent, longtime Democratic Party activist Robert

Zimmerman, is another abortion-abortion-abortion candidate.”

House Republican leaders have not responded to the allegations.

Zimmerman has appeared on CNN and other broadcasts speaking about the issue. Zimmerman told NY News 1, “This issue is not about me,” Zimmerman said. “And it’s much bigger than Democrat versus Republican. This was a fraud committed on our congressional district by George Santos.”

Santos did not respond to PGN’s request for comment.

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