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George Santos – The Washington Post

George Santos – The Washington Post

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George Santos, a Long Island Republican who won a key U.S. House race in November, acknowledged Monday night that he had embellished his biography in an attempt to explain his actions, saying in a radio interview that “a lot of people exaggerate in their autobiographies’.

While Santos downplayed the harm done by his allegations, first raised in the New York Times history last week he briefly addressed how his wealth has skyrocketed over the past few years to enable him to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign.

He said City and State of New York that after various jobs, he opened his own firm and “it just worked because I had connections and started making a lot of money. And I’m essentially starting to build wealth. With that, he added, “I’ve decided I’m going to invest in my race for Congress. There is nothing wrong with this.”

In an interview with New York’s WABC radio, Santos said, “If I’ve let anyone down by embellishing my resume, I’m sorry,” and vowed that “I’m going to take an oath. I will take office.”

Santos also gave an interview on Monday to the New York Post, which ran a headline calling him a “liar” and quoted him as saying “I’m not a criminal.” In that interview, he said that, contrary to his campaign biography, “I didn’t graduate from any higher education institution.”

Last week, after the New York Times report raised numerous questions about whether Santos had fabricated much of his biography, Santos’ attorney said the congressman-elect had been defamed, but did not provide specific details. The Times noted that Santos claimed to have worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Spokespeople for both companies confirmed to The Post that they had no record of his employment.

Santos said during Monday’s 11-minute radio interview that “the way it’s stated on the resume, I’m doing work for — I’ve worked ‘for’, not ‘at’ or ‘in’ or ‘at.’ He said he learned a lesson, but that doesn’t mean “I’m some fictional character.”

When Santos in June 2021 announced its bid for New York’s Third District, which largely represents an affluent part of Long Island’s North Shore, he made a promise few other candidates could match. If elected, he said in a video for the campaign “I promise never to take a salary”.

He reinforced the impression that he was wealthy by giving his campaign at least $580,000 and his political action committee at least $27,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The loans played a key role in his surprise victory and helped Republicans gain a narrow majority in the House of Representatives.

In his first bid for the House, Santos said in a 2020 financial disclosure that he had no assets or earned income, and he listed only commission worth more than $5,000.

But by the time Santos filed his 2022 financial statement, he declared himself worth millions of dollars, with most of the wealth coming from a Florida company of which he is the sole owner: the Devolder Organization.

At one point, Santos said on his campaign website that Devolder was a private family firm managing $80 million in assets, a claim that has since been removed.

Documents filed with the Florida Secretary of State show Santos organized the company in May 2021, one month before he announced his latest bid. Just over a year later, on July 30, 2022, financial data company Dun & Bradstreet estimated that Devolder had revenue of just $43,688.

That previously unreported estimate is based on Dun & Bradstreet’s “modeling” and “data science,” the firm said in a statement to The Post. As a private company, Devolder is not required to publicly publish financial statements.

In any case, on September 6, when Santos filed his financial report with the US House Clerk, he said that the Devolder organization had provided him with millions of dollars. Santos reported that the Devolder organization paid him an annual salary of $750,000 in 2021 and 2022 and that the company is worth between $1 million and $5 million.

Asked in a radio interview about the announcement that he had poured $700,000 into his campaign, he replied: “This is the money of… I paid myself through my company Devolder Organisation.”

Candidates are required to file accurate accounts of their finances with the Clerk of the Chamber. If an applicant knowingly submits a form that is false, this may violate a number of laws, According to to the campaign’s nonpartisan legal center.

According to instruction manual by the House Ethics Committee when making such statements. Fines can be as high as $250,000 and imprisonment can be up to five years, according to the guide. And the House may take “further action,” according to the guidance.

John Katsimatidis, who owns WABC and also donated to Santos’ campaign, said during the interview: “So in other words, you said you inflated your resume a little bit, but there was nothing criminal about that.”

“No, not at all,” Santos replied. He then attacked media coverage of his claims. “John, you know, we live in a world now where apparently I’m a closeted heterosexual man passing as gay.” Santos seems to have meant article in the Daily Beastwho noted divorce papers filed two weeks before launching his first bid for Congress in 2020 showed he was previously married to a woman.

In a statement to The Post, Charlie Statlander, a spokesman for the New York Times, said its “thoroughly researched and meticulously fact-checked reporting speaks for itself. We stand unreservedly behind its publication.”

In 2008, Santos faced criminal charges for check fraud while living in Brazil, and he later pleaded guilty to the crime, the Times reports, citing court records in that country. In recent years, he also faced two evictions and lost a case in small claims court and was ordered to pay $5,000 plus interest after borrowing money from a friend, the Times reported in a second article.

Further questions were raised about Santos’ claim of Jewish ancestry. In his initial campaign video, in which he called New York a “Third World hellhole,” Santos said “my grandparents survived the Holocaust.”

Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition on November 19, Santos said that his grandfather fled Ukraine to Belgium and then emigrated to Brazil. A report last week from the Jewish Insider questioned that claim, citing genealogists who said Santos’ maternal grandparents were likely native Brazilians. Santos said his father was born in Brazil and has Angolan roots, Jewish Insider said.

Asked in a radio interview whether his grandparents were born in Brazil, Santos replied, “To my knowledge, to my understanding, no, they weren’t.” He told the New York Post that he was “clearly Catholic” but that his grandmother she told him she was Jewish and converted to Catholicism.

A spokesman for Santos did not respond to requests for comment before or after the radio interview.

Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate who lost to Santos in the November general election electionstold The Post that Santos’ alleged misstatements about his Jewish ancestry and his family’s Holocaust survival were “vile and despicable.”

“The fact that he would use cruelty and tragedy — the death of 6 million Jews — for personal gain just shows how unfit he is for public office,” Zimmerman said.

“There are no excuses. There are no misunderstandings,” Zimmerman said Monday before Santos commented. “This is nothing more than vulgar, hateful behavior” that aims to “manipulate and exploit an unimaginable tragedy.”

On his website, Santos had said, “After graduation, George Anthony began working at Citigroup as an associate and quickly advanced to become an associate asset manager in the firm’s real estate division.” He also said that “he was then offered exciting opportunity with Goldman Sachs, but what he thought would be the pinnacle of his career was not as fulfilling as he expected.”

Santos downplayed any harm caused by his exaggerations. “A lot of people exaggerate on their resumes or distort a little bit or make fun of themselves,” Santos told WABC radio. “I’m not saying I’m not guilty of it, I’m just saying I’ve done so much good work in my career.”

Republicans are divided on how to handle the sweeping allegations against Santos. Fred Zeidman, a GOP donor and member of the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said he wants to see a response from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California or other GOP leaders, such as Republican National Committee staff . A spokeswoman for McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment.

Zeidman, a former chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, said he spoke with Santos at the RJC’s annual leadership meeting in November, where Santos gave a speech highlighting what he said was his Jewish background. Zeidman came away impressed at the time, but has since been dogged by reports raising questions about Santos’ biography.

“I’m really kind of torn,” Zeidman said, “because you don’t want to give up a Republican seat in Congress and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to win it back. But I certainly think the GOP leadership has an obligation not to appoint someone who is clearly a complete fake.

Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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