A Newly Elected Congressman Seems to Have Made Up His Whole Life Story

Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

A day after a New York Times report revealed glaring discrepancies in newly elected Republican congressman George Santos’s résumé, it remains unclear whether he will face any immediate repercussions for seemingly inventing much of his life story.

The Times investigation discovered countless holes in the representative-elect’s background and employment history — a series of misrepresentations and fabrications ranging from where he graduated college to his financial disclosures and even the existence of an animal charity.

On his campaign website, Santos describes himself as a first-generation Brazilian American who graduated from Baruch College with a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics and later became an investor. But officials from the CUNY institution were unable to find a record of any individual with his name graduating in the year he cites. Past versions of his campaign biography referenced employment at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but when asked by the Times, spokespeople for the two investment companies couldn’t find a record of Santos having worked for them.

The report casts doubt on the existence of Friends of Pets United, a nonprofit animal charity Santos claimed to have founded. The IRS and the attorney general’s offices of New York and New Jersey couldn’t find a record of the organization’s tax-exempt status or charity registration.

Santos also claimed to be a landlord who owns 13 properties, but he didn’t list any New York properties on his disclosure form. He has faced two eviction lawsuits himself, and the Times noted that he was sued in 2015 for a little over $2,000 in unpaid rent and was accused of owing more than $10,000 in rent payments in 2017. Judges ruled against Santos in both instances.

In a WNYC interview, Santos even claimed that four employees of a company where he worked at the time, which he did not name, had died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida in 2016. But the Times couldn’t connect any of the victims of the attack to Santos.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee acknowledged some of the concerns about Santos in an August press release, noting that he had failed to file financial disclosures in 2021 and 2022. The North Shore Leader reported that Santos eventually filed a disclosure in September.

“Santos failed to disclose any assets or money in his bank accounts on his 2020 PFD, yet loaned his campaign more than $80,000 and has continued to self-fund his 2022 campaign — including a self-loan of half a million dollars in the first quarter of 2022,” the press release read. The DCCC highlighted Santos’s ties to Harbor City Capital, a firm the SEC has charged with perpetrating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. The Daily Beast reported in April that Santos, who worked as a regional director for the company, wasn’t named in the lawsuit.

Still, Democrats did not uncover the extent of the discrepancies in Santos’s backstory.

In November, Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman by more than eight points in the race to represent New York’s Third Congressional District. The seat had opened after Representative Tom Suozzi opted not to seek reelection in order to run for governor against Kathy Hochul. Santos had also challenged Suozzi for his seat in 2020 but lost.

Speaking to Semafor, Zimmerman claimed to be unsurprised by the Times report. “We always knew Santos was running a scam against the voters in our congressional district,” he said. “And we raised many of these issues and questions, but we were drowned out in a governor’s race where crime was the focus.”

Others, including many Democrats, questioned how the new information about Santos was coming out only now:

Newly Elected Congressman Seems to Have Invented Life Story