The election of George Santos to the House of Representatives in November was a rare triumph in what was largely a disappointing midterms performance for the Republican party, which failed to capture the Senate.
Santos flipped New York’s 3rd congressional district, securing 54 percent of the vote to beat Rob Zimmerman in what had been a Democratic seat.
However, media investigations, initiated by the New York Times and CNN, have revealed that many of the claims Santos made about his life before winning the election were fabricated, while others remain unsubstantiated.
Speaking to the New York Post on Monday Santos admitted “embellishing” his résumé, but insisted this will “not deter me from having good legislative success” in Congress.
On Wednesday CNN reported federal prosecutors in New York have begun investigating Santos’ finances, citing “a source familiar with the matter.”
Newsweek has gone through the key claims made by Santos about his background and personal life, to establish whether they are true, false, or have yet to be substantiated.
Graduated From Baruch College
Santos claimed he graduated from New York’s Baruch College in 2010 with a degree in economics and finance. However, when contacted by the New York Times the college could find no record of Santos ever having attended as a student.
Speaking to the New York Post on Monday Santos admitted he didn’t graduate from Baruch, commenting: “I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning. I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my résumé.”
Worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup
After leaving college Santos said he went to work for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, two of the most prestigious banks on Wall Street. But when the New York Times got in touch neither company said there was any record of him having worked for them.
During his New York Post interview Santos admitted he “never worked directly” for either company, claiming he instead did business with them while working for a company called Link Bridge. He described his original claim as a “poor choice of words.”
Family-owned Real Estate Portfolio of 13 Properties
In February 2021 Santos claimed “my family and I” had not received any rent for nearly a year on 13 properties they owned, asking: “Will we landlords ever be able to take back possession of our property?”
He later admitted to the New York Post that he doesn’t own any properties and is currently living with his sister.
The incoming Republican said: “George Santos does not own any properties.”
Descendant of Holocaust Survivors
On his campaign website Santos said his mother, Fatima Devolder, was the descendant of refugees who “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII.”
Santos also described himself as the “grandson of Holocaust refugees,” in a 2020 post on Twitter.
However, an investigation by The Forward found government documents indicating Santos’ maternal grandparents were born in Brazil prior to WWII.
Speaking to CNN, genealogist Megan Smolenyak said: “There’s no sign of Jewish and/or Ukrainian heritage and no indication of name changes along the way.”
Responding to the claim, Santos told the New York Post he had described himself as “Jew-ish,” rather than “Jewish.”
He said: “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.'”
First Openly Gay Republican Elected to Congress
Santos is the “first openly-gay Republican elected to Congress,” according to his official website.
However, a Daily Beast investigation found Santos had previously been married to a woman between 2012 and 2017, which he did not publicly disclose.
Santos confirmed this to the New York Post, but insisted he is “very much gay.”
He said: “I dated women in the past. I married a woman. It’s personal stuff.
“I’m very much gay. I’m OK with my sexuality. People change. I’m one of those people who change.”
Santos claims he is now married to a man, though no records have been found substantiating this. Newsweek has contacted Santos asking for evidence of his marital status.
In July 2020 Santos described himself as a “biracial person” on Twitter.
Asked to clarify, he claimed to be “Caucasian and black.”
Santos has not provided details of his Black ancestry, and it is unclear where he believes this fits in. Newsweek has contacted the incoming GOP Congressman for clarification.
Mother Killed on 9/11
In July 2021 Santos said “9/11 claimed my mothers life” during a Twitter discussion.
However, the following December he contradicted this in a Twitter post when he said his mother had died on December 23, 2016.
He wrote: “December 23rd this year marks 5 years I lost my best friend and mentor. Mom you will live forever in my heart.”
A digital obituary published on the Dignity Memorial website confirms Fatima Devolder passed away on December 23, 2016.
Santos’ website says his mother “was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded,” but survived the attack and died of cancer “a few years later.”
On March 30, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, an interview with Santos was published on YouTube titled “George Santos: A Corona Story.”
In the video Santos tells two men, one wearing a “Guns and Freedom” hat and the other seated by a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, that he had “battled a brain tumor.”
Discussing his health Santos said: “I have an immunodeficiency and I also have acute chronic bronchitis. I also battled a brain tumor a couple of years ago and I had radiation done which really lowers your immunity in general.”
Newsweek has been unable to find any other record of Santos discussing a brain tumor and has reached out to the GOP politician for clarification.
Lost four employees in Pulse nightclub massacre
During an interview with WNYC Santos claimed four “people that work for me” were killed during the June 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 dead.
However, the New York Times couldn’t find any evidence linking any of the Pulse shooting victims with companies Santos claimed he owned. Newsweek has asked the New York Republican for clarification.
Santos said he founded a tax-exempt animal rights group, Friends of Pets United, which rescued more than 2,500 cats and dogs.
But no records relating to the group’s charitable status could be found by the IRS, nor could either the New York or New Jersey attorney general’s offices uncover documentation confirming Friends of Pets United had been registered as a charity.
This article originally appeared at Full List of George Santos Claims That Have Now Been Debunked (newsweek.com)