Senior House Republicans were so keenly aware of alleged inaccuracies and embellishments in U.S. Rep.–elect George Santos’s professional biography, that the topic became a “running joke,” multiple insiders close to House GOP leadership reportedly told the New York Post.
Santos appears to have lied about his past employment and whether and where he was educated and did not report income on his federal financial disclosures — potentially a crime, the New York Times reported Monday.
He’s also faced accusations that he lied about his Jewish heritage and ancestors, and even his sexual orientation — he had a previously undisclosed marriage to a woman until 2020, the Daily Beast reported.
In post-Christmas interviews given mainly to sympathetic media, Santos admitted to fabricating numerous elements of his biography but also sought to downplay the significance of having done so. He insisted he is, in fact, gay, but was previously in a heterosexual marriage. He admitted he was not Jewish, as claimed, but portrayed the matter as a misunderstanding in which he was merely characterizing himself as “Jew-ish,” not Jewish per se.
The latest: Republican congressman-elect George Santos admits to lying about his biography, saying he only claimed to be Jew-ish and not Jewish
“As far as questions about George in general, that was always something that was brought up whenever we talked about this race,” said one senior GOP leadership aide. “It was a running joke at a certain point. This is the second time he’s run and these issues we assumed would be worked out by the voters.”
“When the story dropped everyone was like, ‘Well, yeah, that makes sense.’ That’s all what we kind of thought,” the aide added, noting that his financial and biographical details didn’t always add up.
A second insider close to GOP leadership called the allegations against Santos “mostly stuff we already knew,” adding that “there were questions. Things weren’t adding up.”
“By the time we knew that there were questions and issues he was basically the nominee. So what can you do? He was the only Republican candidate.”
Santos has begun facing some heat from the right, too. Republican Jewish Coalition boss Matt Brooks called the allegations “deeply troubling.”
Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo suggested his patience with Santos was wearing thin.
Santos was elected during the midterms last month to represent the Long Island and Queens-based 3rd District and replace retiring Democrat Tom Suozzi. He forms a critical part of Republicans narrow 222 to 213 majority in the chamber.
Given that paper-thin margin, there was almost no chance the incoming congressman would face any sanction from leadership over the issue, House insiders said.
“The most important purpose that Santos serves is voting for Kevin McCarthy, until then nobody’s going to do anything,” the second insider said. “He won his election. He’s a member of congress. Too bad for Democrats. Should have figured this all out beforehand. He will have committee assignments.”
Santos reportedly told the New York Post he would vote for McCarthy but has refused to address on the record the mounting claims of allegedly misrepresenting himself.
in a statement last Thursday he promised to explain everything the following week, going on to admit to his various biographical fabrications but to downplay their significance to voters. He said he would not step down but would take his seat in the new Congress and “be good.”