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Persona Non Grata: Embattled NY Rep-Elect Santos Endures Lonely First Days In Congress

New York Rep.-elect George Santos sits alone in the US House chamber on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
New York Rep.-elect George Santos sits alone in the US House chamber on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Photo Credit: C-SPAN Screenshot

Embattled New York Congressman-elect George Santos received a less than warm welcome from colleagues during his first week on Capitol Hill.

Pictures and video on social media show the Republican politician, who represents the 3rd District on Long Island’s North Shore and parts of Queens, sitting alone in the House chamber during the repeated rounds of voting to elect a speaker.

It was clear right from the start of the 118th Congress that Santos had become a social pariah after admitting to the New York Post that he lied about key aspects of his background, including his prior employment and Jewish ancestry.

In one video, Santos is seen approaching a group of lawmakers engaged in a conversation with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, but nobody acknowledges him. After awkwardly standing next to the group for a short time, Santos walks away.

Another photo shows members of New York’s Congressional delegation, including Reps. Elise Stefanik and Nick LaLota huddled together in conversation, sans Santos.

Rep. Andrew Garbarino, a Republican representing the 2nd District on Long Island’s South Shore, shared a photo of him and other Republicans posing with former House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Notably absent from the photo is Santos.

Another awkward moment for Santos came on Wednesday, Jan. 4, as the House was holding its fifth round of voting to try and elect a speaker. He appeared to miss his name when it was called, prompting his name to be called a second time. Santos finally stood up and raised his hand, announcing his vote for Rep. McCarthy.

Other videos posted on Twitter show Santos dodging questions from a crowd of reporters as he navigates the hallways of the Capitol complex. In one video he walks down what ended up being a dead end and has to awkwardly turn around while continuing to evade reporters.

Santos has faced growing calls to resign following a bombshell New York Times report that said Citigroup and Goldman Sachs had no record of him working there, despite his previous claims of being a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor.”

He later admitted to The Post that he had “never worked directly” for the companies, calling that claim a “poor choice of words.” Instead, he said he was a vice president at another company, Link Bridge, that did business with those companies.

“I will be clearer about that,” Santos told The Post. “It was stated poorly.”

Santos has also admitted that he never graduated from college, despite previous claims that he obtained a degree from Baruch in 2010.

“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he told The Post.

Also apparently fabricated was Santos’ Jewish ancestry, which he previously claimed on his mother’s side. He later told The Post that he is Catholic, but because of his mother’s background he joked that he is “Jew-ish.”

However, genealogists that CNN spoke with found no evidence of Jewish or Ukrainian heritage in his family tree.

Santos is now the subject of federal, state, and local investigations into whether his lies on the campaign trail amounted to criminal activity.

“The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-Elect Santos are nothing short of stunning," Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement.

“The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress. No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”

Santos is also the subject of a fraud investigation in Brazil, after he allegedly admitted to stealing a man’s checkbook that was in his mother’s possession in 2010, CNN reports.

A former shop clerk in Brazil told the outlet that Santos used stolen checks to defraud him out of more than $1,300 in 2008.

The former clerk told the outlet that the shop’s owner demanded that he pay the damages, which were reportedly equal to four months’ salary. The man said he paid in installments before the shop owner waived the remaining amount.

“I was very frustrated. Being deceived is a terrible feeling,” the man told CNN. “Unlike being mugged by someone with a gun who robs you, you might get angry, but being deceived, being fooled, someone acting in bad faith to steal from you, to me, it’s an even worse feeling.”

Santos denied the allegations to the New York Post, saying: “I am not a criminal here - not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”

Born to Brazilian immigrants in Jackson Heights, Queens, Santos made history as the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican and the first Brazilian-American elected to Congress.

He defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in November 2022. Zimmerman has since called on Santos to resign and face an election do-over.

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