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Incumbent George Santos admitted Monday that he misrepresented his work experience and educational history to voters, but said that won’t stop him from taking office in January.
Mr. Santos, a New York Republican who was elected in November to represent parts of northern Long Island and northeastern Queens, confirmed some of the key findings of a New York Times investigation in its origins, but has tried to minimize the lies in its initial remarks since The Times published its findings last week.
“My sins here adorn my resume,” Mr. Santos said The New York Post in one of two interviews he gave Monday to conservative media.
“I am not a criminal,” Mr. Santos said, adding that he would still be an effective lawmaker. In a separate interview with WABC-AM radio, he said he still intends to be sworn in at the start of the next Congress.
Mr. Santos’ admissions served as the culmination of one of the more egregious examples of an incoming congressman falsifying key biographical elements of his background — with Mr. Santos perpetuating the falsehoods through two consecutive congressional runs.
Still, even as Mr. Santos, whose victory helped give Republicans a slim majority in the next House of Representatives, admits to some fabrications, his actions will likely not prevent him from being a member of Congress.
Democrats — including outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the next House Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York — accused Mr. Santos of being unfit to serve in Congress. Top Republican leaders in the chamber, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, have largely remained silent.
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The House can bar candidates from office only if they violate the constitutional requirements of age, citizenship, and state residency. Once seated, however, Mr. Santos could face ethics investigations, legal experts said.
Mr. Santos, through representatives, declined multiple requests to speak to The Times. His interviews did not fully address the scope of The Times’ reporting, which also included omissions in his financial disclosure forms and a charity he claimed to have founded and registered with the IRS
He also adamantly denied having been accused of a crime anywhere in the world, but did not appear to explain the existence of records identifying him as accused of check fraud in Brazil.
During his campaigns, Mr. Santos claimed to have graduated from Baruch College in 2010 before starting work at Citigroup and eventually Goldman Sachs. A biography on the National Republican Congressional Committee website says he attended both Baruch and New York University and earned degrees in finance and economics.
But the colleges and companies could find no records to back up his claims when contacted by The Times.
In an interview Monday, Mr. Santos admitted to The Post that he had not graduated from “any institution of higher learning.” He also admitted that he had never worked directly for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, blaming “poor choice of words” for creating the impression he had.
However, Mr. Santos’ previous statements are relatively clear: An archived version Mr. Santos’ former campaign website, preserved by the Wayback Machine, said he “started at Citigroup as an associate and quickly advanced to become an associate asset manager in the firm’s real estate division.”
Instead, he told The Post, he dealt with both firms through his work at another company, LinkBridge Investors, which connects investors with potential clients.
Mr. Santos told The Post that LinkBridge has a “limited partnership” with the two Wall Street firms.
The Times was able to confirm Mr. Santos’ employment with LinkBridge. But in a version of his campaign bio published as recently as AprilMr. Santos suggested that he began his career on Wall Street at Citigroup and that he was at Goldman Sachs briefly before his time at LinkBridge.
A spokeswoman for Citigroup declined to comment. Representatives for Goldman Sachs and LinkBridge did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
Mr. Santos has not given a full account of his work during the years he claimed until recently to be advancing on Wall Street. In his WABC radio interview, he confirmed The Times’ report that he worked at a call center in Queens in late 2011 and early 2012.
The WABC interview itself was something of a side political curiosity. Mr. Santos was interviewed by John Katsimatidis, a supermarket magnate and major Republican donor, and Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman who resigned in disgrace in 2011.
Mr. Weiner asked Mr. Santos about his claim, made in an interview last month shortly after his election, that a company he worked for “lost four employees” in the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The Times reviewed news coverage and obituaries and found no evidence to support the claim.
On Monday, Mr. Santos told WABC that those four people were not yet employees, but instead were in the process of being hired.
“We really lost four people who were going to come work for the company I started in Orlando,” he said.
Mr. Santos did not name the company or provide additional information to support his statement. Public records show that Mr. Santos lived in the Orlando area at the time of the shooting and that he was registered to vote there during the 2016 election.
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