The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nassau County district attorney opens investigation into Rep.-elect George Santos

District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said residents ‘must have an honest and accountable representative’

George Santos, a Republican elected to the House, is facing new questions about his background. (David Becker for The Washington Post)
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The Nassau County district attorney announced that she is opening an investigation into Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.), whose surprise victory in November was quickly followed by revelations that he lied about his business experience, educational background and family ancestry.

The district attorney, Anne T. Donnelly (R), said in a statement: “The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated” with Santos “are nothing short of stunning.” The residents in the congressional district “must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress” and “if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.” Donnelly’s spokesman, Brendan Brosh, said in a statement, “We are looking into the matter.”

Days after an explosive New York Times story on Dec. 19 detailed lies Santos told about his background, Santos gave a handful of interviews in which he acknowledged he was untruthful about having worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and graduating from college. He said he never claimed to be Jewish, despite previous public comments about his heritage.

Also unclear is the exact source of the $700,000 Santos claimed to have loaned his campaign in 2022, just two years after filing a financial disclosure report during an unsuccessful 2020 congressional run that stated he had no major assets or earned income.

Santos and his representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

The scale of George Santos’s deceit — and the remaining questions

News of the investigation came as another detail in Santos’s biography unraveled Wednesday.

During his 2020 congressional race, he told a dramatic story on a podcast about how a prestigious private school he attended refused to help his financially struggling family months before his graduation.

In the October 2020 interview, which resurfaced on social media Wednesday, Santos, referring to his parents, said: “They sent me to a good prep school — which was Horace Mann Prep in the Bronx. And in my senior year of prep school, unfortunately, my parents fell on hard times.” Santos went on to say that at the time his family couldn’t “afford a $2,500 tuition” and “I left school [with] four months till graduation.”

But a spokesman for the Horace Mann School told The Washington Post that the school has no record of Santos attending the institution.

After the school was contacted and provided with several variations of Santos’s name that he has used in public, Ed Adler, a spokesman for Horace Mann, wrote in an email, “George Santos or any of the aliases you [cite] never attended HM.”

Analysis: The scale of George Santos’s deceit — and the remaining questions

In November, Santos won an open congressional seat on Long Island held by a Democrat. With that victory, Santos made headlines as the first non-incumbent who is an openly gay Republican to be elected to Congress. He also falsely described himself as Jewish and a fantastically successful businessman.

Amid that newfound attention, Santos’s story unraveled.

Santos acknowledges ‘résumé embellishment’ but answers little on finances

Some Democrats have called for Santos not to be seated as a member of Congress next week. House Republican leaders have largely remained silent about the matter, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) seeks enough votes to become House Speaker when Republicans take control of the chamber when the new term begins Tuesday.

Rep.-elect Michael Lawler (R), who defeated an incumbent Democrat in a suburb north of New York City, said in a statement Wednesday, “With multiple federal, state and local investigations seemingly underway, Mr. Santos should cooperate fully, if he is to regain the trust of his constituents and colleagues.” A spokesperson for the New York attorney general’s office said last week that it is looking into the issues raised by the reporting on Santos. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York, whose jurisdiction includes Long Island, declined to comment.

Members of the House Equality Caucus, which focuses on issues facing the LGBTQ community, said in a statement Wednesday that Santos “does not deserve” to be in Congress and urged him to “step down immediately,” pointing to his unsupported claim that four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. Santos later said on WABC that the four people “were going to be coming to work” at his company. He did not elaborate in the interview, nor respond to inquiries from The Post about this.

Bruce Blakeman — the executive of Nassau County — told CNN on Wednesday that Santos needs to address the “emotional issues” that led to his lying. “A normal person wouldn’t do that,” said Blakeman, a Republican.

In the video that surfaced Wednesday, Santos unspools a heart-wrenching story about his education that even his interviewers at the time seemed to question.

One man in the video, who is identified on screen as Bill Cannon, said to Santos: “Wait a minute, George. Horace Mann wouldn’t hit you up with a scholarship?”

Santos replied, “Unfortunately at the time, I wasn’t the only student going through that same issue.”

On Wednesday night on Twitter, Santos ignored the latest developments, but said he is looking forward to working in Congress.