That politicians exaggerate their biographies in order to appeal to voters is well known. Donald Trump raised lying to a pathological level but it appears that he has a challenger to his crown and that is the recently elected member of the US House of Representatives George Santos. He is merely 34 years old but in that short span has managed to pack in so many lies that would normally take a full three score and ten years. Since his election, there have been one exposed lie after another. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
Here they are in no particular order.
- He graduated from Baruch college with degrees in finance and economics. (He has not graduated from any institution of higher learning.)
- He worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. (They have no record of that.)
- He has a family-run real estate empire consisting of 13 properties. (He does not own any properties and lives with his sister.)
- He attended the prestigious private prep school Horace Mann. (They have no record of this.)
- Four of his employees died in the Pulse nightclub murders. (There is no evidence of this.)
- His mother emigrated from Belgium to the US. (She came from Brazil.)
- He claimed his parents fled persecution in Ukraine and changed their names to avoid persecution. (There is no evidence of this or that he has any Ukrainian connections. Both parents came from Brazil.)
- His mother was in one of the Twin Towers and was a victim of the 9/11 attacks. (She died of cancer fifteen years later in 2016 and it is not known if she was in the area of the towers at the time.)
- His grandparents perished in the Holocaust. (There is no evidence of that.)
- He has claimed to be a “proud American Jew”. (There is no evidence that he has any Jewish heritage.)
- He has claimed to be biracial. (No evidence to support this.)
- He does a lot of philanthropy with animal rescue efforts, at risk children, and veterans. (There is no record of this.)
- He claimed to have founded a charity. (There is no record of this.)
He is due to be sworn in on January 3rd but there have been calls for him to not take the oath of office and for the election to be run again. But he seems determined to go ahead, leading to calls for Congress to expel him. But with Republicans having such a tiny majority, the leaders have been silent. Further complicating things is that Kevin McCarthy needs every vote he can get to become speaker and Santos has said he supports him for the position.
Santos has said that he has not done anything illegal and merely embellished his resume and used a ‘poor choice of words’, something he claims that everyone does. But embellishing means slight exaggerations that have a core of truth, like claiming to have graduated with honors when you simply passed. What he has done is lie on such a scale that it goes well beyond any reasonable meaning of the word embellish.
The Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly, a Republican, has opened an investigation into him. New York Attorney General Leitita James is also investigating. What might be his downfall are financial shenanigans.
Santos ran a failed campaign in 2020, during which he filed a financial disclosure declaring virtually no assets and a salary of $55,000. In his 2022 campaign, his disclosure claimed a $750,000 salary and several million in assets, including an apartment in Brazil valued at nearly $1million.
These massive jumps in income and assets have not been explained or documented. In both financial disclosures, Santos signed statements that his claims were “true, complete, and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”
Whether that massive jump in income is accurate has yet to be determined, but can be cause for further investigation. Lying on official documents can bring legal scrutiny in ways that fake Winston Churchill quotes do not.
Santos was asked to explain this sudden jump in income from $55,000 in 2020 to between $3.5 million and $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 and his response was, unsurprisingly, inconsistent and incoherent.
It is not the lying that gets you, it is the associated perjury and fraud.
What amazes me is that very little of this emerged during the campaign. Another is how he could be so brazen about his lies and not realize that he would eventually be exposed, especially when he runs for high public office. Could it be that he saw Trump getting away with big lies and thought he could too? What is also shocking also is that hardly any of this came out during his campaign.