More than a quarter-million people turned out across the North Shore and Queens on Election Day to decide who would succeed Tom Suozzi representing them in the U.S. House. Those voters overwhelmingly chose George Santos to take that job. Yet the George Santos they elected is not actually George Santos. It’s a fictional character, and what voters believed about him was no different than believing Martin Sheen might make a good President of the United States because of the likeable character he once played on television.
George Santos billed himself as a wealth manager. He’s not. He billed himself as a college graduate. He’s not. He even billed himself as Jewish. You know where this is going: He’s not.
The George Santos the people elected to represent them is not the George Santos set to be sworn next week in Washington. And since the George Santos voters chose doesn’t exist, the real George Santos must do the right thing and step aside.
It’s not about politics or power. It’s simply showing respect for the people you were supposed to represent, whose choices should be based on truth, and not outright fabrications.
Santos has dismissed the controversy over his background as simply resume embellishments — something everyone does. “A lot of people overstate their resume,” Santos said. Sure, some might be guilty of playing up their importance a bit at past jobs to help impress a potential new boss. But there’s a major difference between expanding your past accomplishments a bit and claiming to have worked for prestigious companies you never actually worked for. Or receiving degrees you didn’t actually receive.
If Santos had been applying for a regular job like the rest of us, such “embellishments” — once discovered — would almost certainly get us fired, or a job offer rescinded. Why should Congress be any different? Elections are nothing more than an extensive job interview, in which a boss — the people — choose who will fill the role.
Some have said the people will get a chance to have their say in two years when the seat is up for election again, but why should any of us have to wait that long to weigh in?
And while Santos has not been charged with a crime, there are some major questions surrounding how he suddenly went from an annual income of around $55,000 to one where he claimed more than $1.7 million — taking a significant chunk of that and sinking it into his campaign.
Yet, Santos has mostly evaded questions about where that money came from, claiming just Wednesday it was from brokering sales of second-hand airplanes and boats, without offering any details. There is a lot of head-scratching about where this sudden wealth came from, and ultimately any investigation will become pure distraction for Santos, meaning he won’t be able to represent his constituents as they are expecting to be represented.
He blamed his previous money problems — including more than $10,000 in owed rent — to taking care of his mother, who died in 2016. Yet, Santos also says he was living in Florida in 2016. That he was “near” the Pulse nightclub on June 12 when the popular Orlando gay destination was the scene of a horrific mass shooting that killed 49 people.
Santos even went as far as saying four of those who died worked for him — later revising that statement, claiming they were about to be hired by the same company he worked for, without offering any other details.
Santos also identified as Jewish, claiming his maternal grandparents fled to Brazil, escaping the Holocaust. He later said all of us simply misunderstood him — that he was “Jew-ish,” meaning “kind of” Jewish.
Throughout the campaign, Santos presented himself as the personification of the “American Dream.” Yet, people every day — including many of his would-be constituents — struggle to pay bills, save money, and very much live paycheck-to-paycheck with jobs that don’t pay as well as they should.
It’s a truth that very well could have resonated with voters, but George Santos didn’t trust them with the truth. He chose to seek office on a mountain of lies that seems to grow every day. And voters deserve better.
George Santos must step aside, and give voters another chance to choose through a special election. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the honest thing to do.