Incoming Republican Congressman George Santos admitted this week that he lied about significant portions of his background, including his work and education histories.
Last week, a New York Times investigation revealed that Santos may have lied about his résumé as well as other alleged unsavory details about his past. On top of claiming that he attended Baruch College, Santos also claimed in his campaign biography that he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. The investigation from the Times called these claims into question, with both Citigroup and Goldman Sachs claiming they had no record of him working there. Officials with Baruch College also told the Times that the school has no record of Santos graduating from the school in 2010, as he previously claimed. Santos also claims in a biography on the website of the National Republican Congressional Committee that he briefly attended New York University, but N.Y.U officials said they could find no record of his attendance.
At first, Santos called the investigation an attempt to “smear his good name” with defamatory allegations, but in an exclusive interview with the New York Post released on Monday, the freshman congressman admitted that he embellished his résumé.
“My sins here are embellishing my résumé,” Santos said.
Santos further admitted that he “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, arguing that his claims were a “poor choice of words.” According to the junior Republican, the company Link Bridge, where he served as vice president, had business ties to those top-level firms, adding that he would make “capital introductions” between clients and investors. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were both “LPS, Limited Partnerships,” he said.
“I will be clearer about that. It was stated poorly,” Santos said.
Santos also admitted he never graduated from college. “I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning. I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he said. “I own up to that … We do stupid things in life.”
Despite the falsehoods, Santos said that they will not derail his congressional tenure.
“I am not a criminal,” Santos said. “This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”
The New York Times also called into question some claims Santos made about his heritage, such as his saying on his campaign website that his mother was Jewish and that his grandparents escaped the Nazis during World War II. Now, Santos claims he’s “clearly Catholic” and that he never claimed to be Jewish but instead “Jew-ish.”
“I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos said. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
The Times investigation also found that Santos allegedly faces criminal charges of check fraud in Brazil that have not yet been resolved. At the age of 19, he allegedly stole a checkbook from a man that his mother, a nurse, had been caring for and made several fraudulent purchases. He reportedly confessed to the crime two years later and was charged. Brazilian authorities told the Times that the case remains unresolved, being that Santos allegedly did not respond to an official court summons.
Santos told the Post that he had never committed a crime.
“I am not a criminal here – not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world,” Santos said. “Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”
Santos made a name for himself in this past midterm election by clinching a victory on the Democrat-controlled Long Island, becoming the first openly gay Republican to win a U.S. House seat as a non-incumbent. Though reports show he had previously been married to a woman, Santos told the Post that he lives a fully gay life now.
“I dated women in the past. I married a woman. It’s personal stuff,” Santos said.
“I’m very much gay,” he added. “I’m OK with my sexuality. People change. I’m one of those people who change.”