A Complete-Ish Ranking of the Many, Many Lies and Fabrications of George Santos
If “liar, liar, pants on fire” were an actual thing that happened in reality, Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) trousers would set off smoke alarms every time he scurried down the hallways of the Longworth House Office Building to flee from the press corps’ relentless questions about what I’ve previously described as his “farrago of fabulist fantasies” (that was two weeks and several bonkers lies ago).
The man has lied about so many weird things in so many weird ways, we thought it might be helpful to attempt to chronicle a complete-ish* list of his pathetically-poor prevarications, ranked from the totally ridiculous to the truly depraved.
*If Santos can claim he was “Jew-ish,” then we shall call this list “complete-ish.” We’re doing our best, but there is a nonzero chance someone uncovers a brand new Santos lie while this article is being written.
18. Using a fake Churchill quote to defend himself
This is just plain funny. Santos responded to the initial Dec. 19 New York Times report that blasted his fraudulent resume into the nation’s headlines with a statement from his attorney that not only failed to rebut the Times’ reporting but also included a quote falsely attributed to Winston Churchill.
A fake Churchill quote didn’t help any more than the flailing attempt to blame Democrats, and within days, Santos would be admitting his entire resume was basically a giant steaming pile of bovine excrement.
17. Hiding the fact he was previously married to a woman
This was a little tidbit that came out after the dam broke about his deceptions: Santos, who has said he is an “openly gay” man, was previously married to a woman.
The Daily Beast reported that Santos was married to a woman and divorced her in Sept. 2019, and it was “unclear” why he had not disclosed that information, “but it doesn’t fit well with his current biography.”
Being previously married to a woman does not mean that Santos is not gay, but it is just another weird plot twist in this bizarre reboot of The Talented Mr. Ripley.
16. Claiming he attended the Met Gala
In a podcast interview in Aug. 2022, Santos claimed that he had attended the Met Gala — a heavily photographed event that requires a $30,000 ticket that can only be purchased at the exclusive invitation of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. He also claimed that he had commissioned art for museums in New York City. Like so many of his fabulist statements, there is zero proof either of these things ever happened.
This is the sort of false claim it might be reasonable to dismiss as a resume “embellishment,” or harmless puffery, but what nudges this lie just above the bottom of the list is how Santos claimed that he had been this mover-and-shaker in the NYC art scene but was no longer, having been “ostracized from every possible social circle” as the victim of discrimination because he was a gay Republican.
15. Denying he performed as a drag queen
Oddly, out of all the accusations against him, this is the one that got one of the most energetic denials from Congressman Liar McLiarPants. On Wednesday, multiple photos and reports emerged on social media saying that Santos had performed in drag in Brazil, using the name “Kitara Ravache.”
Santos took to Twitter Thursday morning to insist that the reports were nothing more than the “most recent obsession from the media” and it was “categorically false” that he was a drag queen or had performed as a drag queen.
It’s a laughable denial, since there are multiple on-the-record sources who provided multiple photos of Santos in these various bedazzled outfits, and — as multiple Twitter users pointed out — it’s the thing that is the “least offensive, least criminally liable thing” among the many accusations against him.
14. Claiming to be a college volleyball star
Santos not only claimed to have been on the Baruch College volleyball team, he called himself a “star” player, said he was on the team that “slayed” Harvard and Yale, and even went so far as to claim he was so hardcore he had sacrificed both his knees, needing two knee replacement surgeries.
Since he never actually attended Baruch College (see #12 below), he certainly was not on any sort of sports team there. The victories and knee surgeries were likewise fabricated; the New York Post reported that Baruch men’s volleyball did not even play Yale during the time period Santos claimed he attended.
13. Allegedly stealing a Burberry scarf, etc. from his roommates
Here’s one that ranks more as a petty crime than cardinal sin. Two former roommates of Santos’ accused him of swiping the luxury brand scarf from one of them — and even identified it as the one Santos was seen wearing during his appearance at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5, 2021.
The Burberry website shows their men’s cashmere scarves in the distinctive Burberry plaid pattern currently retail for $520, and his former roommates also have accused Santos of stealing a Burberry shirt, an iPhone, as well as stealing three checks from a checkbook and attempting to cash them for $10,000 each.
12. Lying about his entire educational experience
Santos has lied about attending the prestigious Horace Mann prep school (he claimed he dropped out before graduating because of his family’s financial difficulties), lied about graduating from Baruch College, and lied about graduating from New York University.
There is no record that he attended any of those educational institutions at all, much less earned degrees. Santos has attempted to shrug off these lies as just having “embellished” his resume, but they were demonstrably false and part of his overall deception to convince voters he was qualified to help address their concerns about the economy as a member of Congress.
11. Lying about his work experience and personal finances
This whopper gets a slightly higher ranking than lying about his education because just like after a certain amount of time, no one cares about your college GPA anymore, Santos’ lies about his professional experience tied into the heart of his campaign, that he had the expertise to pass legislation that would help combat inflation and other complex economic challenges that were a core part of the GOP’s 2022 midterm messaging.
Contrary to his claims, Santos never worked for Citigroup or Goldman Sachs. He is, however, tied to a company that is accused of defrauding its investors. As reported by CNN’s KFile, “Santos worked at Harbor City Capital Corp. in 2020 and 2021, a company the SEC said was a ‘classic Ponzi scheme’ in an April 2021 complaint against the firm.”
Santos also claimed to be a landlord with multiple properties, but listed no rental properties on his financial disclosure forms.
10. Claiming to have rescued thousands of pets
Santos claimed that he founded a pet charity called Friends of Pets United that had rescued thousands of cats and dogs. The charity does not appear to have ever actually existed in any meaningful way, having never been registered as a charity in New York or New Jersey, never obtained 501(c)3 tax-exempt status with the IRS, and no proof it actually rescued any animals.
Friends of Pets United did have a Facebook page and held some events, but the head of a New Jersey pet rescue charity told the New York Times that Santos held a fundraiser that was supposed to benefit her group but he never sent any of the funds.
(Friends of Pets United also played a key role in our number #1 most diabolical Santos lie, below.)
9. What the f*** is his name?
As far as we can tell, the names Santos has used over the years include the one he used on the 2022 ballot, George Santos, as well as Anthony Santos, Anthony Devolder, George Devolder, George Anthony Devolder, George A.D. Santos, George Anthony Santos-Devolder, and Anthony Zabrovsky.
Santos’ use of the “Zabrovsky” name seems to have had an additionally deceitful motive, playing into his efforts to portray himself as Jewish (see #6 below).
Frankly, we have no idea what his name actually is, and at the risk of invoking echoes of Donald Trump’s birther nonsense, the American people really do deserve to see the paperwork establishing his true identity, his legal name, and whether or not he is a legal American citizen. His campaign website says he was born in Queens, and that does seem to line up with his mother’s immigration paperwork, but so little of his biography has turned out to be as he claimed.
To be perfectly clear, I have never in my life called for any candidate who is an immigrant or child of an immigrant to have to “show your papers,” but the sheer volume and scope of Santos’ lies has left reasonable people being unable to believe his word. The voters of his district deserve to know that their congressional representative is a citizen and legally eligible for his office.
8. He might have committed crimes in Brazil
Axios reported on Jan. 3 that prosecutors were reviving a criminal investigation into accusations that Santos used a stolen checkbook to buy about $700 worth of goods under a false name. A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office in Rio de Janeiro told Axios that the original investigation had been suspended because they didn’t know where he was.
Getting elected to the House and all the media attention put a spotlight on Santos, his seemingly endless number of aliases, and required him to have a declared residential address, as well as a very publicly known work address.
In a scene reminiscent of President Richard Nixon’s a-bit-too-insistent declaration “I am not a crook,” Santos told the Post in December shortly after his web of lies began unraveling, “I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world.”
7. Where did all that money come from?
Santos has faced growing questions about his finances, after mysteriously going from zero assets and a $55,000 salary during his 2020 failed first congressional race to being able to lend his 2022 campaign more than $700,000.
The guy who never actually went to college and never worked for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup has developed a taste for the finer things in life, frequenting posh New York restaurants and being spotted wearing a Cartier watch on the House floor during Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) grueling rounds of votes to win the Speakership, a fancy timepiece that currently retails for $7,800 (assuming it’s the real thing and not a counterfeit).
Santos has just flat-out refused to answer questions from reporters about how exactly his rags-to-riches journey happened — including the very understandable speculation that his funding may be connected to a nefarious source seeking to influence a Congressman — instead blaming Democrats and the media.
6. Pretending to be Jewish
New York’s third congressional district includes part of Long Island and Queens, and has a significant Jewish population, making Santos’ motivations for claiming Jewish heritage very clear.
His mother is not and has never been Jewish, meaning he was not Jewish from birth and would not be Jewish unless he completed an approved religious conversion. Genealogists who have examined Santos’ family records have been unable to find any evidence he has any Jewish or Ukrainian heritage at all.
It’s far from the first time he’s sought an advantage by falsely claiming to be Jewish. His former roommate said that his use of the name “Anthony Zabrovsky” in connection with a GoFundMe was because “the Jews will give more if you’re a Jew.” Just adding a cherry of anti-semitic tropes on top of his fraudulent sundae.
The Republican Jewish Coalition blasted Santos for having “deceived us and misrepresented his heritage,” and declared that he was no longer welcome at any of their events.
5. Claiming he meant he was “Jew-ish”
Two of the most famous political adages are that “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up,” and “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.”
After Santos got busted for not actually being Jewish, he offered this absurd excuse that he meant he was “Jew-ish”:
Santos now says that he’s “clearly Catholic,” but claimed his grandmother told stories about being Jewish and later converting to Catholicism.
“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.’”
Again, there was no Jewish “maternal family background” in Santos’ family at all.
4. Claiming four of his employees were killed in the Pulse shooting
As a native of Orlando, this one was especially offensive. Many of us had connections to people who were there that night — one of the victims worked at the Publix grocery store a mile down the road from my high school — and even over six years later, the mass shooting that killed 49 people is still a very real pain for this city.
Santos claimed to have four employees who were killed at Pulse. As reported by Orlando CBS affiliate WKMG, no one employer had more than two staff members who died that night, and there is no evidence anyone who ever worked for Santos was among the victims. His claim to have lost four employees was a crass attempt to capitalize on other people’s grief.
3. Pretending to be descended from Holocaust survivors
This is the genocidal equivalent of stolen valor, claiming a family history that is a real tragedy and trauma for the millions of innocents who were killed in the Nazi concentration camps, plus the millions more who survived the ordeal. It’s obviously connected to his lies about being Jewish (see #6 above) but is an especially vile deception due to the seriousness of the subject matter.
Santos’ false claim about being descended from Holocaust survivors is connected to at least one false name he used, with him claiming that his family name had been “Zabrovsky” but had been changed after the war to avoid persecution.
2. Pretending his mother was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and that she died as a result of the attacks
Lying about your own mother’s death would make a normal person with a normal sense of morality shudder at the bad karma such a lie would invoke, but nothing about the Santos saga is normal.
The congressman has claimed his mother was working in the South Tower World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and has made various claims implying that she died when the towers fell. His bio on his campaign website still contains the claim that she was in her office and “survived the tragic events on 9/11” but “passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.”
NBC News reported on Wednesday that immigration records showed that his mother, Fatima Caruso Devolder, was living in Brazil in 2001, was not in the U.S. at all from 1999 until April 2003, and actually died in 2016.
1. Allegedly stealing money meant to save a disabled veteran’s dog
Your friendly neighborhood Mediaite contributing editor is a devout animal lover, having adopted several shelter cats and fostered an adorable series of puppers, three-legged cats, and various kittens over the years.
This gets the highest ranking on our list of the Santos deceptions both because there is an actual death toll and for its sheer pettiness.
As first reported by Patch, in 2016, a disabled Navy veteran named Richard Osthoff was living in a chicken coop in New Jersey and his service dog Sapphire needed live-saving surgery that would cost $3,000.
According to Osthoff, Santos claimed his pet charity (Friends of Pets United, see above) could help, set up a GoFundMe page for Sapphire’s surgery, but closed the page after the $3,000 was raised, and never explained what happened to the money. Osthoff was unable to find other funding and had to euthanize Sapphire less than a year later, having to panhandle just to afford the euthanasia and cremation for his beloved dog. He’s also been very open about how Santos’ scam “wrecked” his faith in humanity and the loss of his dog made him contemplate committing suicide.
Santos has denied the story, calling the report “shocking” and “insane,” and claiming he had received pictures of dogs he had “helped rescue throughout the years” (an earlier version of this tweet said “dogs I helped reduce,” an apparent typo, and was deleted).
But the original story at Patch included multiple pieces of evidence, including screenshots of Osthoff’s social media posts during this time, photos of Sapphire, and text messages with Santos (who was going by Anthony Devolder at that time). Osthoff has given multiple on-the-record, on camera interviews to media outlets including CNN and MSNBC, and comes across as genuinely heartbroken — and certainly more credible than Santos, but that is the lowest of low bars.
Let’s put this in context. Santos somehow magically found $700,000 to loan his campaign. The $3,000 he is accused of stealing from a veteran’s dying dog is just barely 0.4% of that total, or less than half the value of the Cartier watch he’s been wearing.
Assuming these allegations are true, this was a shameless grift that brought Santos the smallest of gains but was a devastating loss for a veteran, causing the death of his dog and almost Osthoff himself.
And Santos is dismissing these reports as mere “distractions.” Inexcusably vile.
UPDATE: I’ve corrected the above section to reflect that Santos has said he was born in Queens, which, if true, would make him an automatic U.S. citizen. And there’s one more whopper of a tale regarding Santos’ claims about getting one of the first cases of Covid and also being a brain tumor survivor (!). Let’s consider this an item on the list ranked as #2.5, for its sheer audacity and shameless attempt to get sympathy he did not deserve.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.