Merck Foundation and African First Ladies marking World Cancer Day 2023 through 110 scholarships of Oncology Fellowships in 25 countriesRead more Supporting women leaders and aspirants to unleash their potentialRead more Fake medicines kill almost 500,000 sub-Saharan Africans a year: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reportRead more Climate crisis and migration: Greta Thunberg supports International Organization for Migration (IOM) over ‘life and death’ issueRead more United Nations (UN) Convenes Lake Chad Countries, Amid Growing Regional CrisisRead more 11 Disruptive Startups Selected for Cohort 3 of the Africa Startup Initiative Program (ASIP) Accelerator Program powered by Startupbootcamp AfricaRead more Africa Data Centres breaks ground on new Sameer facility in NairobiRead more Coffee with a human face: A union that improves livelihoods for Ugandan farmersRead more Trends Predicted to drive the retail industry in 2023Read more Vantage Capital exits Pétro IvoireRead more

What George Santos’s alleged lying might say about US politics

show caption
US Republican lawmaker-elect from New York George Santos looks on as the House of Representatives continues voting for new speaker at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 5, 2023./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Jan 09, 2023 - 08:22 AM

NEW YORK — Republican George Santos admitted to hamming up his life story and is under investigation in America and Brazil, but he still went to Capitol Hill this week for his swearing in.

The 34-year-old has defied calls to stand down and if rebel Republicans hadn’t repeatedly blocked the election of House Speaker then Santos would be a Congressman by now.

For some experts, the lawmaker-elect from New York is an example of what politicians think they can get away with today in the deeply polarized United States.

“There is no getting around the fact that Mr. Santos’s con game is a manifestation of a growing political phenomenon of saying or doing anything, with no automatic consequences,” Santos’s Democratic predecessor, former representative Tom Suozzi wrote in the New York Times.

Joshua Tucker, a politics professor at New York University notes that “people have lied about their record forever.”

“(But) what’s crazy about this story is the extent to which he lied,” he told AFP.

Santos portrayed himself as the embodiment of the “American Dream” ahead of his election victory in New York’s third congressional district in November.

The son of Brazilian immigrants grew up in the Queens borough of New York City and is openly gay.

His story began to unravel in December when the New York Times reported many falsehoods in his CV, including on education and employment.

He did not graduate from Baruch College, nor did he attend the Horace Mann School, a prestigious private school in the Bronx. Nor did he work for Citigroup or Goldman Sachs.

Santos — who grew up in a Catholic family — was also accused of exaggerating reality, our outright lying, by presenting himself as “a proud American Jew.”

He later said he never claimed to be Jewish, just “Jew-ish.”

Reports also cast doubts on his claim that he is the grandson of Holocaust survivors who fled Nazi barbarism.

Santos, who has been likened to “The Talented Mr. Ripley” or “The Great Gatsby”, has been accused of inflating his financial income and real estate holdings as well.

Amid the allegations, New York’s top prosecutor, Letitia James, said she would investigate Santos’ claims while Brazilian prosecutors reinstated over-decade-old fraud charges against him for using a stolen checkbook.

‘I’m not a fraud’ 

Santos told the conservative Fox News channel this week that “embellishing my resume was a mistake.”

But he added: “I’m not a fraud, I’m not a fake.”

Santos appeared isolated in the House of Representatives on Monday, and avoided questions from journalists, but by Tuesday he was seen mixing with other Republicans.

While Democrats have called for him to quit, no high-profile Republicans have done so.

Some commentators say that highlights the fragile state of American democracy.

“Today’s hyperpolarized political culture is fueled by a win-at-all-costs mentality in which the ends justify the means,” Ken Paulson and Kent Syler, two professors at Middle Tennessee State University, wrote in The Tennessean newspaper.

Tucker sees the influence of former president Donald Trump, who is known for his flexible relationship with facts.

“Trump has shown that it doesn’t really matter what your relationship to the truth is,” he said.

“Maybe in this modern era, the bar for what triggers politicians to think they have behaved so egregiously that they should resign is different than it was in previous eras.

“It’s sort of hard to fathom that he’s not going to resign at some point,” Tucker added.

A local conservative newspaper, The North Shore Leader, raised concerns about Santos’s financial situation before his election, but the information was not picked up nationally after the vote.

Some observers also criticize the Democratic Party for not spotting and highlighting Santos’s fibs earlier.

So what might happen to Santos if he doesn’t quit?

Experts say the House may vote to censure him when he is finally sworn in, but they add that Republicans are unlikely to expel him due to their slim 222-213 majority.

Voters, armed with more facts about Santos than they had this time round, will get another say in two years’ time — if he decides to seek re-election.

  • bio
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • latest posts

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.