It can be difficult keeping up with the list of fictions that George Santos has been accused of telling, admitted telling, or merely been caught spinning red-handed following a contradictory statement.
But, do not fret: The Independent is here, and we’re keeping track of the whole list of lies even as it continues to grow — both in number and in the sheer scale of the humiliation that it presents for not just Mr Santos, who remains adamant that he will serve two years in office as representative for New York’s third district, but for the Republican House caucus as a whole.
Home state Republicans and Democrats alike are calling for his resignation from Congress while major conservative groups are vowing not to work with him. Still, he has found a niche for himself among the GOP’s far-right Maga caucus, among fellows like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz.
On Wednesday 11 January, New York Republicans called on Mr Santos to resign, saying that he “disgraced the House of Representatives”. Mr Santos, meanwhile, has held firm, telling reporters on Wednesday that he “will not” step down.
Let’s dive in to every fabrication, fiction, lie, mistruth, and “embellishment” that Mr Santos has admitted to telling or been caught spreading by journalists and others (so far):
He went to college
Our first one, and one of the primary batch of lies uncovered by The New York Times and other news outlets, is Mr Santos’s claim that he obtained degrees from NYU and Baruch College, another New York City-based school.
As it turns out, not only did he not graduate from either school, officials at both said there was no record of him attending under any alias. Mr Santos has now admitted this, chalking it up to the effort to make his resume more impressive.
He went to prep school
Mr Santos claimed in a campaign biography during his failed 2020 bid for Congress (in the same district) that he had briefly attended a prestigious prep school in New York.
“He began Horace Mann preparatory school in the Bronx, however, did not graduate from Horace Mann due to financial difficulties for his family,” read the biography.
As you might expect, Horace Mann officials said there was no record of him ever attending. Mr Santos has not responded to discovery of this apparent fabrication.
He worked at banks
Another from the initial dispatch: Mr Santos did not, as it turns out, work at either Citigroup or Goldman Sachs. He has now admitted that this too was a fiction: Instead, he claims to have worked for the two banks through a third company, though he has provided no evidence to back that claim up.
What we do know is that an investment firm he founded in May of 2021 came into sudden wealth, bringing in millions of dollars to the degreeless Mr Santos, whose employment history remains murky. He has yet to explain how this firm he founded (and shut down in 2022 after failing to file paperwork) operated or made its millions in such a short period — or how he made his connections in the industry at all.
He ran a charity
The political newcomer claimed not only to be an ex-banker but also a lover of animals: Mr Santos previously claimed to have founded a charity group called Friends of Pets United, taking credit for supposedly saving thousands of dogs and cats. But no IRS records of the group could be found, and Mr Santos himself even backed away from the claim that he founded the group, later telling reporters that he only campaigned for the group and tried to find foster homes for some animals.
He’s Jewish, and his grandparents fled the Holocaust
It’s becoming almost impossible to count every time Mr Santos has been accused of telling various audiences that he is Jewish. The Republican Jewish Coalition says that he represented himself to them as Jewish, and he has made public comments to that effect in interviews. Then there was the position paper uncovered by Axios in which he simply refers to himself as an “American Jew”, removing all doubt as to what he said.
Nevertheless, in a recent interview with Fox News he insisted that he had not lied, and in fact only referred to himself as “Jew-ish” — an explanation that sounded like it was ripped straight from a Weekend Update joke.
Not only has he come clean about actually being Catholic, genealogists contacted by The Forward said that there was no evidence to prove his other past claims on the issue; namely, that his grandparents on his mother’s side escaped the Holocaust. They were born in Brazil.
He knew victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting
Among many other claims, Mr Santos told WNYC last year that he personally had “lost” four of his employees at the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in 2016.
It was later determined by news reports that no one on the list of those killed in the mass shooting were identifiable as being employees of any business owned by Mr Santos.
The congressman then changed his story to say that well, actually, they hadn’t been officially hired yet — the four unnamed persons were supposedly all new employees.
There’s no evidence of that, either.
He owns real estate
During the 2020 campaign, Mr Santos told voters that he owned more than a dozen rental properties across the state of New York. Turns out, that’s not true: He told City & State New York that he actually “does not own any properties” at all. Some may be owned by his family, but he only at the most had use of them.
His mother died twice
This one easily takes the crown for “most bizarre” lie told so far. In one tweet uncovered Wednesday by reporters, Mr Santos claimed that his mother had died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.
Then he sent another tweet, five months later. In that message, his mother had a new time of death: 23 December, 2016.
While Mr Santos has not admitted to this fib or addressed it publicly, it is reasonably safe to say that his mother did not come back from the dead.
Some have pointed out that it is possible Mr Santos could have been referring to his mother contracting cancer or another disease resulting from the fallout from the towers’ destruction. However, a review of her employment history found no signs of her ever working or living anywhere near Ground Zero.
His apartment was robbed
In a sworn statement in housing court in 2016, Mr Santos claimed he was mugged on his way to pay hundreds of dollars in back rent to his Queens landlord during an eviction case. The New York City Police Department has no record of any such attack.
A report from New York outlet Gothamist revealed that Mr Santos wrote that he was mugged on his way to deliver a rent cheque to Queens Housing Court on 15 January 2016 in an effort to resolve his case.
The Republican wrote that he was “unable to provide a police report” and was told to return to police several days later to pick one up, according to an affidavit that was filled out under oath.
Mr Santos was set to pay $2,250 in back rent for his Queens apartment.
A spokesperson for NYPD told the outlet there was nothing on file related to Mr Santos’s claims.
He goes by George Santos
This one doesn’t count as a lie, but it’s still worth mentioning in this long list of fibs.
Mr Santos as recently as 2019 was introducing himself publicly and privately as “Anthony Devolder”, which appears to be his middle name — George Anthony Santos — as well as his mother’s maiden name, Devolder.
He even “hated” that his friends would sometimes refer to him as George, according to The Washington Post, and “insisted on being called Anthony” by his friends and others.
“His whole family called him Anthony. He wanted to be called Anthony. He would use the name Anthony Devolder,” said that former acquaintance, described as an ex-friend and coworker.
He may have performed as a drag queen in Brazil
Mr Santos has most recently been accused of having performed as a drag queen named “Kitara Ravache” in Brazil more than a decade ago.
The allegation came from Brazilian drag professional Eula Rochard, 58, who reportedly recognised him on TV following his elevation to the House of Representatives, excitedly told her friends and then reacted to their disbelief by digging out an old photograph she insists shows the pair of them together in costume, posting it on Instagram.
“He’s changed a lot, but he was always a liar,” Ms Rochard told Reuters. “He was always such a dreamer.”
Mr Santos emphatically denied her story on Twitter, writing: “The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or ‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false. 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.”
Alex Woodward contributed to this report