U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos, the national embarrassment elected to represent the Gold Coast and northeastern Queens in Congress, admitted Monday that he fabricated his resume, but rebuffed calls to resign.
The embattled Republican whose scandal made international news broke his silence in interviews with conservative news outlets a week after The New York Times published an exposé detailing how he lied about where he went to college, his employment history, and other parts of his background. After the story broke, he initially issued a vague nondenial through his attorney, but later posted on Twitter: “I will address your questions.” Yet after his first round of interviews, questions remain unanswered.
“I am not a criminal,” Santos told the New York Post. “My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry.”
In comments to the Post and WABC 77 radio, Santos confirmed the Times reporting that he neither graduated from Baruch College nor worked at either Goldman Sachs or Citigroup.
He said he was embarrassed about lying about his education and admitted he did not graduate from college. As far as his employment, he told the Post that Link Bridge, an investment company where he was a vice president, did business with both Goldman and Citigroup. He chalked up the mischaracterization as a “poor choice of words.”
The first openly gay non-incumbent Republican elected to Congress also confirmed that he was previously married to and divorced from a woman but is now married to a man.
While he also conceded that he does not own properties as he claimed and was evicted from a Queens apartment, Santos, 34, pushed back against reports that he was charged with a crime in Brazil as a teenager and never faced a judge in the case.
Left unaddressed in the interviews were reports that Santos lied about establishing a nonprofit for which no IRS records could be found, that employees of a company he founded were killed in the Pulse nightclub massacre and his work at a company accused of operating a Ponzi scheme.
Santos did, however, partly address the controversy over his claims that his Jewish grandparents fled from Europe to Brazil to avoid Nazi persecution during World War II. Instead of acknowledging the reports in the Forward disputing his genealogical records disproving his claims, he simply told the Post he “never claimed to be Jewish.” The reports didn’t question his Catholic faith, just his Holocaust claims.
Democrats — including New York State Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs, Santos’ electoral opponent Robert Zimmerman, and Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan (I-Syosset), who lost a Democratic primary bid in the race — have called for Santos to resign in response to the news. Zimmerman, who sounded the alarm about Santos on the campaign trial, said he was “not surprised.” Lafazan last week proposed a law making it a crime for political candidates to lie to voters about their backgrounds and called for a federal investigation.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment. State Attorney General Letitia James’ office is “looking into” the claims.
Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo, who last week said he looked forward to Santos’ explanation, did not respond to a request for comment. Asked how a candidate with so many red flags survived the GOP’s vetting process, a party spokesman referred questions to Santos’ campaign. Santos has not responded to requests for comment.
Santos is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 3 to the 118th Congress. He will represent the 3rd Congregational District currently held by outgoing U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who beat Santos in 2020 but ran a losing gubernatorial bid against Gov. Kathy Hochul instead of seeking a fourth term. The district includes the North Shore of Nassau County and northeastern Queens from Whitestone to the city line.
“I campaigned talking about the people’s concerns, not my resume,” he told the Post. “I intend to deliver on the promises I made during the campaign.”