Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is denying a report that he performed as a drag queen in Brazil.
“The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or ‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. “The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I am working to deliver results. I will not be distracted nor fazed by this.”
Santos was referring to a story published Wednesday by journalist Marisa Kabas, who has been reporting on the sundry deceptions put forth by Santos during his campaign. Kabas spoke with a Brazilian drag queen named Eula Rochard, who provided a photo of a person who resembles Santos dressed in drag.
“The picture was taken in 2008 at the Pride Parade at Icaraí Beach in Niterói,” Rochard told Kabas. “George had disappeared for a little while, and then returned to Brazil with a lot of money, and that was about the same time when the picture was taken.”
Rochard added that Santos was never a professional drag performer, that he just did it for fun and enjoyed dressing up, saying, “He did not have what it takes to be a professional. George did not have the glamour for that.”
Republicans and right-wing activists have made drag shows a top target in recent months, with some state legislatures proposing bills that would ban or limit the events. Drag shows are a frequent focus of conservative media, and GLAAD released data in December of last year alleging that the events were targeted once every two and a half days in 2022.
The drag queen story is not the only new revelation about Santos. On Tuesday, Patch reported that he stole $3,000 from a GoFundMe fundraiser meant to go to a dying service dog owned by a disabled veteran. Richard Osthoff alleged that in 2016 a man named Anthony Devolder — one of the aliases used by Santos over the years — “scammed” him out of the money and that the dog, Sapphire, died the next year. Santos told news startup Semafor that the accusation was “fake” and that he did not know Osthoff.
He tweeted late Thursday morning that the reports he allowed a dog to die were “shocking & insane,” but he did not explicitly deny the charges. He concluded the message by stating, “These distractions won’t stop me!”
On Wednesday, the Forward reported that immigration records show that Santos’s mother, Fatima Devolder, was not in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Santos has claimed his mother was at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attack and that the “ash cloud” caused her death 15 years later. The reporting follows weeks of revelations that the freshman congressman has lied about everything from his job and education histories to his religion.
While Santos received two committee assignments this week in the new GOP-controlled House — the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee — he has continued to face growing calls to resign and a number of local, state and federal inquiries. On Tuesday, Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., urged the Federal Election Commission to begin an investigation into Santos.
“George Santos has essentially lied about every aspect of his life,” Torres said at a news conference in the Republican’s Long Island congressional district. “He has essentially pretended to be a biracial Ukrainian-Belgian-Brazilian volleyball champion and brain cancer survivor whose mother died twice, including on 9/11, whose ancestors survived the Holocaust, whose employees died in the Pulse mass shooting, and who miraculously became a multimillionaire overnight.
“Mr. Santos claims that he earned millions of dollars from clients, yet he has disclosed the names of none of those clients on his congressional financial disclosure, as required by federal law,” Torres added.
While not rushing to his defense, House GOP leaders have so far refused to call for Santos to step down.
“I haven’t even introduced myself to him because it’s pretty despicable, the lies that he told,” House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., told CNN on Sunday. “But at the end of the day, it’s not up to me or any other member of Congress to determine whether he could be kicked out for lying. Now, if he broke campaign finance laws, then he will be removed from Congress.”
“The voters of his district have elected him. He is seated. He is part of the Republican Conference,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said last week. “He will be held accountable, exactly as anybody else in this body would be.”
“It will play itself out,” House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik told CNN.