After an incoming GOP congressman was caught “embellishing” his credentials, the representative-elect downplayed accusations of lying with a slew of clarifications amidst Democratic calls for his resignation.
Set to take the oath of office in January to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District, Rep.-elect George Santos (R) defeated Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman in November who, as an owner of a marketing communications company, seemingly did no opposition research. It wasn’t until after the general election that The New York Times ran a story questioning the education, sexuality, work experience and other aspects of Santos’ background which he endeavored to answer for Monday.
Heading into the Christmas weekend, the politician addressed concerns with a tweet that read, “To the people of #NY03 I have my story to tell and it will be told next week. I want to assure everyone that I will address your questions and that I remain committed to deliver the results I campaigned on; Public safety, Inflation, Education & more. Happy Holidays to all!”
To the people of #NY03 I have my story to tell and it will be told next week. I want to assure everyone that I will address your questions and that I remain committed to deliver the results I campaigned on; Public safety, Inflation, Education & more.
Happy Holidays to all!
— George Santos (@Santos4Congress) December 22, 2022
He has since made good on that assurance and spoke with the New York Post Monday to apologize, saying, “My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry.”
“I am not a criminal. This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success,” Santos said. “I will be effective. I will be good.”
Among the called-out claims from the Rep.-elect were his academic and professional experience which suggested he had worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and that he had graduated with a degree from Baruch College and attended New York University. The latter had been suggested in his biography on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s website.
Santos explained to the Post that he actually worked for a firm called Link Bridge which did business with the other financial institutions and that “It was stated poorly.”
“I will be clearer about that,” he offered as he also explained, “I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning. I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume. I own up to that…We do stupid things in life.”
Other concerns were raised over his personal background as Santos is set to become the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican elected to the lower chamber and, as a self-professed Catholic, had been accused of making claims of being a Jew whose grandparents had escaped persecution by the Nazis during WWII.
Of his faith, the politician explained that he had recounted stories of his grandmother’s conversion as a result of the war and that “I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.'”
As to his personal relationships, the congressman-elect didn’t shy from the fact that he was married from 2012 to 2017 but had divorced his wife to live as a gay man, “I dated women in the past. I married a woman. It’s personal stuff.”
“I’m very much gay,” he went on. “I’m OK with my sexuality. People change. I’m one of those people who change.”
According to a senior GOP leadership aide, these details were known about Santos’ background.
“As far as questions about George in general, that was always something that was brought up whenever we talked about his race. It was a running joke at a certain point. This is the second time he’s run and these issues we assumed would be worked out by voters,” the aide said.
However, Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo seemed less inclined to accept that narrative and called for Santos to fully explain himself to voters, saying, “While I have indicated that the congressman-elect deserves a reasonable amount of time to respond to the media, voters deserve a sincere accounting from Mr. Santos. I will be listening attentively, and I want to hear meaningful remarks from George Santos.”
Meanwhile, Democrats jumped at the opportunity to criticize the politician without taking into consideration the records of some of their favored officials, like President Joe Biden. Politico’s Sam Stein for one tweeted, “Is there any precedent at all to this George Santos situation? Has Congress ever had someone with so many remarkable biographical holes?”
Is there any precedent at all to this George Santos situation? Has Congress ever had someone with so many remarkable biographical holes?
— Sam Stein (@samstein) December 22, 2022
Asked and answered.
How dare you impugn the integrity of a man who was arrested marching with MLK
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) December 22, 2022
— Drunk driver killed his wife & daughter
— Pinned medal on a Navy captain who was just a kid
— No knowledge of Hunter's foreign business dealings
— Turned down offer from the Naval Academy
— His uncle won a Purple Heart
— His helicopter in Afghanistan “forced down”
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 22, 2022
— Oil industry somehow gave him cancer
— Won a fight against a drug dealer named Cornpop
— Dead Amtrak worker awarded him for riding 1.8 million miles
— Attended Temple services on a Sunday
— Raised in Puerto Rican community
— Worked as a college prof
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 22, 2022
— Hiked Himalayas w/ Pres. Xi
— Received full-ride scholarship
— Graduated w/ 3 degrees
— His dad was an early gay marriage advocate
— Spoke to the inventor of insulin (despite not being born yet)
— Attended Delaware State Univ (an HBCU)
— Worked as lifeguard
— Not “the big guy”
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 23, 2022
Santos seemed unconcerned about the story interfering with his ability to do his job as a representative, explaining to the Post, “I campaigned talking about the people’s concerns, not my resume. I intend to deliver on the promises I made during the campaign — fighting crime, fighting to lower inflation, improving education.”
He concluded, “I came to DC to bring results on those issues and that’s what I’m going to do.”
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