Briefing

A running list of George Santos' apparent lies

How many ways has Santos 'embellished' his life story?

George Santos, the 34-year-old Republican elected in New York's 3rd Congressional District in the 2022 midterms, has said a lot of things about himself. And presumably, some of them are true. But after his victory, The New York Times uncovered a lot of falsehoods in his biography. "My sins here are embellishing my résumé," Santos told the New York Post two weeks before he was to take his oath of office. "I'm sorry." But his life story has only continued to unravel, and a majority of New York voters now want him to resign. Here's a list of things Santos has said about himself that he now admits are not true or appear to be blatant fabrications:

He attended an elite prep school

Santos grew up in Queens, a child of Brazilian immigrants, and in 2019 and 2020 he said he attended the elite "Horace Mann preparatory school in the Bronx," but had to quit four months before graduation because "my parents fell on hard times" when their purported real estate portfolio imploded in the 2008 recession. A Horace Mann spokesman told CNN that a search of school records uncovered "no evidence that George Santos (or any alias) attended Horace Mann." 

He graduated from college

According to a résumé Santos gave the Nassau County Republican Committee in 2020, he graduated sum cum laude from New York City's Baruch College with a 3.89 GPA in 2010, then got an MBA from New York University in 2013, after scoring an impressive 710 on the GMAT. "Neither degree was real," the Times reports. After officials at both colleges said they had no records of him attending, he came clean to the New York Post. "I didn't graduate from any institution of higher learning. I'm embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my résumé."

He was a 'star' college volleyball player

Santos said "he was a star on the Baruch volleyball team and that they won the league championship," Nassau Country Republican Chairman Joseph Cairo Jr. said at a Jan. 11 news conference to call for Santos' resignation. "He said he was a star and that they won the championship and he was a striker." Santos told WABC radio in October 2020 that he attended Baruch on a volleyball scholarship, and "sacrificed both my knees and got very nice knee replacements from HHS playing volleyball."

Baruch College's men's volleyball team did win the City University of New York Athletic Conference in 2009 and 2010, The Washington Post notes, but of course Santos was not a student there.

He worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup

Santos also admitted to the Post he "never worked directly" for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, despite claiming to have worked for both on his campaign website. He chalked up that résumé "embellishment" to a "poor choice of words," telling Fox News that trying to explain the role he played as a middleman between the banks and clients would have been "way above the American people's head." 

He trashed Goldman Sachs at a financial conference 

In a June 2022 podcast, Santos bragged that he had "berated" his "employer," Goldman Sachs, on stage at Anthony Scaramucci's SALT conference. Goldman Sachs and Santos both agree now that he never worked there, and Scaramucci told CNN he has no record showing Santos was on the renewable energy panel he claimed to be on, or even attended the conference.

He helped develop carbon capture technology

Santos told the Loud Majority podcast at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference that he "helped develop" and raise funds for "carbon capture technology" used in oil and gas drilling. "I've had a very extensive role in gas and oil in this country, and I can tell you we cause far less harm to the environment than the occasional accident," he added. "Reporters have only been able to confirm two jobs Santos has held," The Daily Beast notes: "Working for a call center in 2011 and a company that has since been accused of being a Ponzi scheme."

He founded an animal rescue charity

Santos claimed in his campaign biography that he started a nonprofit animal rescue called Friends of Pets United in 2013 that was "able to effectively rescue 2400 dogs and 280 cats." The IRS and attorneys general of New York and New Jersey said they have no record of a registered charity with that name, and the woman who hosted the one known fundraiser Santos held for his charity told the Times she never received any of the raised funds.

He didn't swindle a disabled vet out of money to save a dying dog

Richard Osthoff, a disabled Navy veteran, told Patch and other news organizations that Santos helped raise $3,000 for his beloved service dog Sapphire's lifesaving surgery in May 2016, then kept the money, and the dog died. A second vet, retired Sgt. Michael Boll, confirmed that Santos raised and kept the money for Sapphire, and Osthoff produced contemporaneous text messages with Santos. But Santos denied the story. "The reports that I would let a dog die is shocking & insane," he tweeted Jan. 19. "My work in animal advocacy was the labor of love & hard work. Over the past 24hr I have received pictures of dogs I helped rescue throughout the years along with supportive messages." Osthoff isn't buying it. "Prove it. Show us," he told CNN. "He should show us if he has all these people that reach out to him and love what he does."

He owns property

Santos claimed in February 2021 that he and his family owned a portfolio of 13 properties they "worked hard to acquire," but the Times found no records that he owned any real estate. "George Santos does not own any properties," he confessed to the Post, adding that he currently resided at his sister's place on Long Island. He also confirmed the Times' report that he was twice evicted for not paying rent and said he still hasn't paid $12,000 he was ordered to give one of the landlords. 

He's half-Black 

Santos wrote on Twitter in 2020 that he identifies as "bi-racial," and when pressed to elaborate, he said he's "Caucasian and Black." Though both his parents were born in Brazil, he said his father has roots in Angola and his "White Caucasian mother" had "fled socialism in Europe" as "an immigrant from Belgium."

He's Jewish

Santos has claimed to be a nonobservant "proud American Jew" and a "Latino Jew." His maternal "grandparents fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII," his campaign biography began. Santos was listed as one of two Jewish Republicans elected in 2022 at a Republican Jewish Coalition convention in Las Vegas in November, and tweeted Nov. 3 that it "was an honor to address fellow members of the Jewish community." He told Jewish Insider he embraced both "my mother's Jewish background beliefs" and "my father's Roman Catholic beliefs" as his own and treasured his four trips to Israel. "I never claimed to be Jewish," Santos told the Post. "I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was 'Jew-ish.'" 

His grandparents are Holocaust survivors

Santos tweeted in 2020 that he's "the grandson of Holocaust refugees," said in a 2021 campaign video that his "grandparents survived the Holocaust," and suggested in a February 2022 interview that his family changed its "Ukrainian last name," Zabrovsky, like many "World War II refugees or survivors of the Holocaust." But both his maternal grandparents were born in Brazil decades before World War II, The Forward reports, and they don't "appear in Brazilian immigration cards in the 1930s or 1940s, or in the databases of Yad Vashem or the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which list European Jewish refugees." Two genealogists researched Santos' family tree and found no evidence of Jewish or Ukrainian roots. Still, he used the Zabrovsky last name, common among Ashkenazi Jews, when he wanted to raise money, former roommate Gregory Morey-Parker told CNN. "He would say, 'Oh well, the Jews will give more if you're a Jew.' And so that's the name he used for his GoFundMe."

He lost employees in the Pulse nightclub shooting

Santos told WYNC in November 2022 that his company "lost four employees" who "were at Pulse nightclub" in Orlando during a tragic 2016 mass shooting. But a "review of news coverage and obituaries found that none of the 49 victims appear to have worked at the various firms named in his biography," the Times reports.

His mother was a financial executive

Santos also claimed on his website that his mother, Fatima Devolder, "came from nothing, but worked her way up to be the first female executive at a major financial institution," and "was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded." But contemporaneous articles, immigration documents, and interviews with Santos' friends and former roommates describe Devolder as a migrant farm worker, cook, and house cleaner "who spoke only Portuguese," the Times reports, and none "could recall any instance of her working in finance."

His mother died in the 9/11 attacks

Santos tweeted in July 2021 that "9/11 claimed my mothers (sic) life." His campaign biography amended that to say "she survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer." Devolder died in 2016. And she was in Brazil — not the U.S. — between 1999 and 2003, according to immigration documents obtained by genealogy researcher Alex Calzareth and shared with several news organizations.

'I am not a criminal'

Santos has not been convicted of a crime, but he is under investigation in two countries — and he admitted to breaking the law in Brazil when he was 19, the Times reports. Police and court records show he used a stolen checkbook to make fraudulent purposes in 2008, confessed to the crime in 2010, and was charged in 2011, the year he moved back to New York. Brazilian prosecutors suspended the case when they couldn't find him, but reopened it after his serial lies as a congressman-elect allowed them to locate him. That makes his statement to the Post, that "I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world," suspect at best.

He wasn't a drag queen

Brazilian drag performer Eula Rochard told freelance reporter Marisa Kabas that she knew Santos in 2005 and 2008 as a young drag queen outside Rio who used the stage name Kitara Ravache. And Rochard provided a photo and video

"The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag queen or 'performed' as a drag queen is categorically false," Santos tweeted Jan. 19. Rochard told Kabas that Santos dressed in drag mostly for fun: "He did not have what it takes to be a professional. George did not have the glamour for that." Rochard and a second person who knew Santos in Brazil told Reuters that he did enter drag beauty pageants, though. And a man in a black dress who appears to be Santos bragged about performing in drag in a video from 2005, the New York Post reports. "He's changed a lot, but he was always a liar," Rochard told Reuters.

He voted against the House omnibus bill

Santos claimed on his website Jan. 4 that he voted "nay" on the House fiscal 2023 spending bill that passed on Dec. 23, more than two weeks before he was to be sworn in as a congressman. At the time he made that claim, he still hadn't been sworn in, because the House had not yet elected a speaker. Nevertheless, he also put out a statement a day earlier announcing that he had been sworn in as a member of Congress — though in this case, it seems to be less a lie and more a failure to stop an automated email from sending.

Updated Jan. 24, 2023: This article has been updated throughout and will be added to if further revelations emerge. 

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