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GOP Congressman-elect Santos Caught Lying About Being Jewish

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December 27, 2022

Republican Congressman-elect George Santos has been caught in a web of lies and embellishments on his resumé and biography over the last two weeks. Among them, Santos claimed to be Jewish.

And now, Santos says that he never purported to be a Jew.

“I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos said in an interview with the New York Post. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s CEO Matt Brooks released a statement today addressing Santos’ lies:

“We are very disappointed in Congressman-elect Santos. He deceived us and misrepresented his heritage. In public comments and to us personally he previously claimed to be Jewish. He has begun his tenure in Congress on a very wrong note. He will not be welcome at any future RJC event.”

In response on Twitter, the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) called on the RJC to urge Santos not to be sworn into office at all:

“If @RJC had any integrity, they would join us in ensuring there’s no place for Santos’ lies in Congress by calling on him to not take the oath of office on Jan 3.”

In a snapshot of Santos’ campaign website by Wayback Machine on April 27, 2022, the first line of his biography read the following:

My story is the story of New York: I’m a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Brazil seeking the American dream— opportunities to work hard, play by the rules, and achieve success. Unfortunately, the opportunities once available to my parents are becoming harder to achieve for my generation and our country.

By October 21, 2022, his biography on the campaign website had been altered to read:

“George Santos is a first-generation American born in Queens, New York. George’s grandparents fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII. They were able to settle in Brazil, where his mother was born. His father, who comes from Angolan roots, was also born in Brazil. Both his mother and father legally immigrated to the United States in search of the American dream, where they began their new lives on the foundations of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Currently, the opening lines of Santos’ campaign website biography makes no reference to his grandparents allegedly fleeing the horrors of the Holocaust.

George Santos is the son of immigrants, who grew up in a basement apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. Both his mother and father legally immigrated to the United States in search of the American dream, where they began their family on the foundations of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  (Link)

The Jewish Daily Forward reported on a campaign document circulated by Santos to “Jewish and pro-Israel leaders” where Santos claimed that he was a “proud American Jew.”

The line in the document read, “As a proud American Jew, I have been to Israel numerous times from educational, business and leisurely trips.”

Santos’ claims of being Jewish are just one of statements by Santos about his background that have been called into question. Among them: Santos claimed to have worked at both Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Both companies denied he ever worked for them. He claimed to have graduated from Baruch College and took classes at New York University. The New York Times reported that neither school could verify Santos’ claims. Santos said that he “lost four employees” at the mass shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016. He later admitted that they were “going to be coming to work for the company that I was starting up in Orlando.”

“My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry,” Santos told the New York Post in response to the allegations of lies.

Santos is also the first openly-gay Republican to be elected to a first term in the House of Representatives. Twenty-four years ago, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly-gay Member of the House to be elected to a first term. In 2012, Baldwin became the first openly gay U.S. Senator to be elected to a first term—she is currently serving her second term.

In 2020, Santos unsuccessfully ran for New York’s 3rd Congressional District seat, losing to incumbent Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D) by a 12.5% margin. Suozzi did not run for reelection this year, opting to run for Governor of New York and eventually losing to incumbent Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul.

The 34-year-old Santos was elected to New York’s 3rd Congressional District seat on November 8 of this year, defeating Democrat Robert Zimmerman by an 8.2% margin. The district is primarily in western Nassau County (Long Island), from Oyster Bay to Great Neck, stretching west to include a small section of northern Queens.

At the time of this writing, there have been no official statements from the only two Jewish Republicans in Congress who would be serving with Santos: incumbent Representative David Kustoff (R-TN) and Representative-elect Max L. Miller (R-OH).

On November 19th, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) touted that having three Jewish Republicans in the House would be the most in 24 years.

“With Max Miller in Ohio, George Santos in New York, and you have David Kustoff from Tennessee get reelected…do you realize we have the largest Republican Jewish caucus in more than 24 years? Not bad, huh?”

If he takes office as planned next week, Santos could still face a litany of consequences for his lies. Representative-elect Nick LaLota (R-NY) already called for an ethics investigation:

“I have heard from countless Long Islanders how deeply troubled they are by the headlines surrounding George Santos. As a Navy man who campaigned on restoring accountability and integrity to our government, I believe a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement, is required.”

Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS), current Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee, has yet to issue a statement on Santos as of this writing.

Santos could also find himself without any committee assignments after inauguration day. In a similar turn of events, during her first term in the House, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) lost all of her committee assignments after making comments that allegedly advocated for violence against Democrats. A full House chamber vote of 230-199 made Greene’s committee removals official, with 11 Republicans joining all Democrats in the majority. As recently as October, a resolution was introduced by Jewish Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL) to censure Greene for comparing President Joe Biden to Hitler (link).

If Santos takes the oath of office but does resign, his seat would be filled through a special election. On the first day of the 118th Congress, the party makeup of the House will be 222 Republicans and 212 Democrats.

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