A Republican from New York who won a seat in the U.S. House in November is being asked to explain himself because there is evidence that he made up parts of his life story.
During his campaign, George Santos, who is 34 years old, talked about his impressive academic and professional credentials and made himself out to be the personification of the American dream. After growing up in a working-class immigrant family in Queens and getting a high school equivalency diploma, he said he had a lightning-fast rise in finance, culminating in his involvement in “landmark deals on Wall Street.”
But the college where Santos said he got a finance degree couldn’t find proof that he went there. Several places where Santos said he worked didn’t have any record of him working there.
The New York Times was the first to write about the possible problems with Santos’ resume on Monday. The newspaper also questioned the truth of other parts of Santos’ life story and said he was being investigated for fraud in Brazil, where he and his family used to live. An attorney for Santos didn’t answer questions about his past but said that people who “felt threatened” by his politics were after him.
In a statement, lawyer Joseph Murray said, “It’s not surprising that Congressman-elect Santos has enemies at the New York Times who are trying to smear his good name with these false accusations.” In a long biography that used to be on his campaign website, Santos said that he got a degree in economics and finance from Baruch College in 2010. On the other hand, Baruch said it could not find any records that showed someone with Santos’ name and date of birth had ever graduated.
The biography said that Santos then worked at Citigroup and became “an associate asset manager in the real asset division.” Danielle Romero Apsilos, a Citigroup spokesperson, said that the company had no records that showed Santos had ever worked there. In his biography, it said that Santos later worked for Goldman Sachs, which is a big investment bank. Also, that company said it had no record of him working there.
On the website of the National Republican Congressional Committee, a different biography said that Santos had gotten a second degree from New York University. A representative for NYU said that the school had no records showing that Santos had been a student there. Someone sent an email to the NRCC asking where the information came from. Santos also said that he worked at LinkBridge Investors and Metglobal. Two emails and a voicemail to LifeBridge asking for comment went unanswered, as did two emails to Metglobal.
The Times found records in Brazil that show Santos was under investigation in 2008 for allegedly using stolen checks to buy things at a clothing store in the city of Niteroi. He would have been 19 at the time. There are pictures of Santos with his family in the files. Local prosecutors told the Times that the case was dead because Santos had never shown up in court.
Santos ran for Congress for the first time in 2020. He lost to Democrat Tom Suozzi. He ran again in 2022, facing Robert Zimmerman, a Democrat, in a district that includes some suburbs of Long Island and a small part of Queens.
In a post on social media, Zimmerman asked the House Ethics Committee, the Federal Elections Commission, and federal prosecutors to look into the case. “The fact that Santos didn’t answer any of the questions about these allegations shows that he is unfit for public office and should resign,” Zimmerman said.
Chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee Joseph Cairo Jr. called the problems “serious,” but he said Santos should have a chance to discuss them. In a statement, Cairo said, “Everyone deserves a chance to ‘clear their name’ when they are accused.” “I’m committed to this idea and looking forward to hearing how the Congressman-Elect reacts to the news.”
Santos told people on social media that he was a successful real estate investor whose family owned several properties. But the records show that he had money problems. According to court records, Santos was significantly asked to leave Queens between 2014 and 2017 because he hadn’t paid his rent.
Harbor City Capitol Corp., a Florida-based investment firm, hired Santos in the summer of 2020. The Securities and Exchange Commission said that company was a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, so it stopped doing business in 2021.
In the SEC complaint, Santos was not named. Earlier this year, he told The Daily Beast that he was shocked by the claims of wrongdoing. State records show that after Santos left Harbor City, he set up a business called the Devolder Organization in Florida.
Santos filled out a form in September to tell the House of Representatives about his finances. He said the company paid him a $750,000 salary and at least $1 million in dividends each year. He said that the company’s business was “capital introduction consulting.” His only other asset was an apartment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which he said was worth between $500,000 and $1 million.
In documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission, Santos said he had given at least $630,000 from his own money to his campaign. Santos was registered to vote at a small townhouse in Queens that he does not own, but he moved away before the election. Nancy Pothos, his former landlord, who is 72 years old, said that Santos lived there for two years before he moved out at the end of August.
The person who spoke for Santos’s campaign and his lawyer didn’t answer a list of questions about his company, possible mistakes in his biography, and the criminal case in Brazil.
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