Serial liar George Santos turned up on Capitol Hill for his first day as congressman-elect on Tuesday, amid fresh accusations of untruths. It appears the freshman Republican couldn’t get through his first day without lying.
On Wednesday morning, Santos’ website claimed he voted “nay” on the House omnibus spending bill.
The problem: the vote took place on Dec. 23—weeks before Santos took office.
He also falsely sent out a statement on his first day that he had been sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives. (In fairness, though, the message appears to have been automated and a number of other freshman lawmakers did the same thing—likely not expecting the Republican in-fighting over electing a House Speaker would drag on.)
It hasn’t been a great few weeks for 34-year-old Santos—a bombastic Republican candidate who was elected to represent Nassau County and parts of Queens in November 2022.
An explosive investigation in The New York Times last month started a wave of accusations against Santos for outright lies. He has been caught lying about his ancestry, his family background, his education, his work history, his finances, and his charitable efforts.
The Daily Beast had previously revealed that Santos’ most recent employer was accused by federal prosecutors of being a Ponzi scheme.
As Santos takes office, he is under investigation by the Nassau County district attorney Ann Donnelly, who said his fabrications were “nothing short of stunning.” New York Attorney General Letitia James has also said her office is looking into Santos.
While we wait to see what Santos has in store for us next, here’s a round-up of all the biggest lies he is accused of telling.
That he’s the biracial descendent of Ukrainian Jews
Santos, who was born to Brazilian immigrant parents in Queens, has repeatedly said that while he is religiously Catholic he identifies as a non-observant Jew.
In his campaign biography, Santos wrote that his maternal grandparents were Jews who fled persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, fled once again during World War II, and finally settled in Brazil. He said the family changed their original name—which was Zabrovsky—in a February interview with Fox News.
This story became an important part of his political sales package. He was elected in a district covering the North Shore of Long Island and parts of Queens which is 20 percent Jewish.
“I’ve seen how socialism destroys people’s lives because my grandparents survived the Holocaust,” Santos said in a 2021 campaign video.
Santos also wrote a position paper shared with pro-Israel groups, including American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in which he identified as a “proud American Jew.”
Several outlets, including The Forward and CNN, looked into Santos’ mother’s heritage and found no evidence of Jewish ancestry. Santos’ maternal grandparents were born in Brazil and have no Ukrainian or Jewish roots, according to genealogy websites reviewed by The Forward.
“I never claimed to be Jewish,” Mr. Santos told The New York Post. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
Elsewhere, Santos claimed to have roots in Angola, and in tweets from 2020 identified as “bi-racial.”
That he attended elite private school Horace Mann and Baruch College
In a 2019 campaign biography, Santos claimed he attended Horace Mann, a Bronx private school, but was forced to withdraw due to his family’s financial difficulties.
“They sent me to a good prep school, which was Horace Mann Prep in the Bronx. And in my senior year of prep school, unfortunately, my parents fell on hard times, which was something that would later become known as the depression of 2008,” Santos said in a 2020 YouTube interview, claiming he had to drop out four months before graduation.
The school found no evidence that Santos had ever attended, a spokesperson told CNN.
Santos also claimed to have graduated from Baruch College in 2010 and spent a stint at New York University. Again, officials could find no record of him. Santos later admitted to the New York Post that he had not graduated from Baruch or any other college.
That his mother died due to 9/11
Santos claimed that his mother, Fatima Devolder, was “the first female executive at a major financial institution” and worked in the World Trade Center.
“9/11 claimed my mothers (sic) life,” Santos wrote on Twitter in July 2021.
“George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded,” a biography of Santos posted on the National Republican Congressional Committee website reads. “She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.”
In fact, Devolder worked variously as a domestic worker, a cook, and a nurse. She spoke Portuguese but no English, according to reporting by The New York Times. In 2008, while living in Brazil aged 19, Santos stole the checkbook of a man his mother was caring for and used it to buy shoes. He later confessed and was charged, according to Brazilian court records viewed by the newspaper. Santos left the country before the case could be resolved.
Santos’ mother died on Dec. 23, 2016—15 years after the attacks of 9/11, according to her obituary.
That he was a Wall Street big shot
After his supposed “graduation” from college, Santos claimed to have worked at Citigroup as an associate asset manager in the real estate division, according to the Times. A spokesperson for Citigroup told the newspaper that not only did Santos not work there, but that job title did not exist.
Next, Santos said he left Citigroup for Goldman Sachs, where he said he disrupted company culture, but ultimately did not find the job “fulfilling.”
“Have you ever heard of a Goldman Sachs employee take the stage at the largest private equity conference in the world–SALT, run by Anthony Scaramucci–and berate their employer? Well, I did that,” Santos told a podcast in the summer of 2022. “And I did it in the fashion of renewable energy and global warming. This was the panel I was on. And they’re all talking about solar, wind, and this was back, what, seven years ago now? And I said, you know what, this is a scam. It’s taxpayer money that gets subsidized.”
Santos admitted to the New York Post that he had never worked directly for Citigroup or Goldman Sachs, instead saying he worked at Link Bridge, a company that did business with the two companies.
“My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry,” Santos told the Post.
That he ran a charity that saved thousands of dogs
Following his supposed Wall Street career, Santos claimed to have turned his hand to philanthropy. In an online biography, he claimed to have started Friends of Pets United, a non-profit animal rescue in 2013. Over five years, the group was “able to effectively rescue 2400 dogs and 280 cats, and successfully conducted the TNR (trap, neuter, and release) of over 3000 cats,” he wrote.
In 2017, Santos held a fundraiser for the non-profit, charging $50-a-head for entry to an event complete with drinks, a live band, and a raffle, according to the Times. But the person Santos claimed to be raising money for never received the funds, she told the newspaper.
Neither the IRS nor the New York or New Jersey attorney general’s offices could find any records of Friends of Pets United being registered as a charity, the Times found.
That four of his employees died in the Pulse nightclub shooting
While being interviewed by WNYC in November, Santos claimed that his company had lost four employees in the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub massacre in Orlando in 2016. The Times reviewed obituaries and news reports about the shooting and found that none of the 49 victims appeared to have worked for Santos.
That he’s always been ‘openly gay’
Santos’ identity as a proud gay man was at the heart of his campaign. He was the first openly gay non-incumbent GOP candidate elected to Congress and claimed he had “never experienced discrimination in the Republican Party.” Despite this, he has supported Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill” signed into law this year by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.
It now appears Santos may have not been completely open about his sexuality. The Daily Beast found he failed to mention that he was married to a woman with the divorce only finalized 12 days before he launched his first congressional campaign in 2020, in which he described himself as a proud gay Republican.
That he ran a family firm worth millions
At the heart of Santos’ mysterious finances lies the Devolder Organization, a family real estate firm that Santos claimed managed $80 million in assets. Santos paid $700,000 from Devolder to his campaign, a payment that campaign finance experts say could add up to an unlawful corporate contribution.
In a 2021 campaign biography, Santos claimed to be a “Managing Member” of the company, which he described as a “capital introduction consulting company” in congressional financial disclosures. The firm, however, has no website or LinkedIn page, and Santos did not list any of the company’s clients in his disclosures.
Santos reported receiving a $750,000 salary and $1 million in dividends from Devolder, according to the Times.
That he managed a real estate empire
In tweets from February 2021, Santos also claimed to be a landlord of at least 13 properties and complained about being adversely affected by New York’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium.
“Will we landlords ever be able to take back possession of our property?” Santos wrote. “My family and I nearing a 1 year anniversary of not receiving rent on 13 properties!!! The state is collecting their tax, yet we get 0 help from the government. We worked hard to acquire these assets.”
Neither Santos nor the Devolder Organization appear to own any properties in New York City or Nassau County, according to a review of his financial disclosures and city property records by the Times.
In fact, the Times found, Santos himself had been evicted twice from apartments in Queens. In 2015, he was evicted after owing $2,250 in unpaid rent. Santos claimed that he was mugged on a New York street while on his way to pay this back rent, according to Gothamist. The NYPD found no record of the incident.
Two years later, he was once again evicted by a different landlord, this time for owing more than $10,000 in rent stretching over five months.