For a week, Representative-elect George Santos avoided answering questions from the media, after The New York Times reported several notable fabrications on his résumé.
Now, Mr. Santos has swapped out silence for a new tactic: creating the appearance of coming clean.
In three separate interviews — two of them with conservative media, none with The Times — Mr. Santos has admitted to “embellishing” his résumé, even as he has denounced “elitist” institutions seeking to hold him to account and suggested that he is no more duplicitous than your average member of Congress.
‘Did I embellish my résumé? Yes, I did,” he told City & State, a New York political publication. “And I’m sorry, and it shouldn’t be done. And words can’t express 100 percent how I feel, but I’m still the same guy. I’m not a fraud. I’m not a cartoon character. I’m not some mythical creature that was invented.”
Voters from New York’s Third Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Nassau County and Queens, elected Mr. Santos, 34, a Republican, in November. When he enters Congress in 2023, several important unanswered questions will still hang over him.
Here is what we do and do not know about the representative-elect.
Mr. Santos did not work where he said he did.
Over the course of his two campaigns for Congress, the first of which was unsuccessful, Mr. Santos cast himself as an accomplished veteran of Wall Street, with work experience at both Citigroup, where he said he was “an associate asset manager,” and at Goldman Sachs. Both firms told The Times that they had no record of Mr. Santos’s ever working for them.
In recent interviews, Mr. Santos has claimed that he did not actually work for those companies, but rather with them, when he was employed at a company called LinkBridge Investors, which says it connects fund managers with investors.
Mr. Santos told The New York Post that he had merely used a “poor choice of words.”
Mr. Santos did not graduate from the schools he said he had.
Mr. Santos has said he graduated from Baruch College in Manhattan with a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance. A biography on the website of the House Republicans’ campaign committee said he had also studied at N.Y.U. But neither college could find records verifying those claims, and in his interview with The Post, Mr. Santos admitted that he had lied about his education.
“I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning.” he told the newspaper. “I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my résumé.”
Mr. Santos says he is not Jewish, so much as “Jew-ish.”
Mr. Santos has said that his mother was born in Brazil to immigrants who “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium and again fled persecution during WW II.” And he has identified as both Catholic and as a nonobservant Jew.
But citing genealogy records and Brazilian records, both The Forward, a Jewish publication, and CNN have reported that Mr. Santos’s maternal grandparents appear to have been born in Brazil before World War II. Mr. Santos has responded to those revelations by modifying his story ever so slightly.
“I always joke, I’m Catholic, but I’m also Jew-ish — as in ‘ish,’” he told City & State. “I grew up fully aware that my grandparents were Jewish, came from a Jewish family, and they were refugees to Brazil. And that was always the story I grew up with, and I’ve always known it very well.”
Mr. Santos amends story on Pulse nightclub shooting.
After he won election, Mr. Santos, who says he is gay, claimed to have “lost four employees” at the 2016 shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, a claim for which The Times could find no evidence.
During an interview on WABC radio, Mr. Santos said that those “four employees” did not actually work for his Florida company. Rather, those four individuals were in the process of being hired, he said.
“We did lose four people that were going to be coming to work for the company that I was starting up in Orlando,” he said.
Mr. Santos denied committing any crimes.
Contrary to records unearthed by The Times, Mr. Santos has seemed to insist that he was never charged with fraud for writing checks with a stolen checkbook in Brazil.
“I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world,” he told The Post. “Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”
In the radio interview with WABC, Mr. Santos offered to provide documents to corroborate his assertion. But he declined to provide any documentation to The Times.
Mr. Santos does not own 13 properties.
During his most recent congressional campaign, Mr. Santos cast himself and his family as the owners of 13 properties. He also suggested he was a beleaguered landlord whose tenants were unjustly withholding rent.
On Monday, he said his family owns property, but he does not.
“George Santos does not own any properties,” he told The Post.
The sources of Mr. Santos’s $700,000 campaign loan remain unclear.
Though Mr. Santos’s adulthood has been marked by a trail of unpaid debts to landlords and creditors, in 2021 and 2022, he lent $700,000 to his congressional campaign. It remains unclear where that money came from.
Mr. Santos continues to claim it originated with his work at The Devolder Organization, which he described as a consulting firm to City & State.
Mr. Santos has disclosed little about the operations of his company, and The Times could find no property or public-facing assets linked to the firm.