The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Santos is accused of harassing prospective staffer in his D.C. office

George Santos on Capitol Hill. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)
4 min

A prospective staffer in the D.C. office of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) said Saturday that he was sexually harassed by the embattled congressman, who is facing calls to resign from both sides of the aisle after admitting to fabricating details about his biography.

Derek Myers made the allegation in a series of posts on Twitter, which included a complaint he said he filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics. A spokeswoman for Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, confirmed that the congresswoman received the complaint.

Representatives for Santos on Sunday referred questions to the congressman’s counsel. Joseph Murray, a lawyer for Santos, declined to comment. The New York Times reported the news about the filing of the complaint on Saturday night.

Last week, Santos told the online news outlet Semafor that he did not hire Myers after learning he faced wiretapping charges in Ohio and finding his answers about his background “evasive.”

Myers, 30, was arrested last year and charged when, while working as an independent journalist, he published leaked audio he obtained of a murder trial. The Society of Professional Journalists criticized Myers’s arrest and called it a threat against press freedom and the First Amendment.

In the complaint against Santos, Myers said he applied to work as a legislative correspondent and staff assistant to the New York lawmaker. Myers said he went to the office on Jan. 24, met with the staff and was “assigned a desk.” He said he spent the rest of the day working, though his title was “‘volunteer’ until my paperwork would be processed.”

On Jan. 25, Myers said he was alone with Santos in his “personal office, going over mail correspondence,” when the congressman changed the topic of the conversation “by placing his hand on my left leg, near my knee” and inviting him to karaoke that evening. Myers said he declined.

Myers then said Santos moved his hand up Myers’s leg “into my inner thigh” and touched his groin. Myers said he “quickly pushed” the hand away” and returned to his desk.

Myers said he was called into Santos’s office on Jan. 30 and questioned about his background, including his previous work as a journalist. Myers said his job offer was rescinded Wednesday.

In an email to The Washington Post, Myers said the job would have paid him $50,000 with benefits. “I am heartbroken,” he wrote. “I want my job back, for the people, but not under him.”

Myers surreptitiously made an audio recording of the Jan. 30 meeting and provided a copy of it to Talking Points Memo, which later published it. According to the outlet, Santos sought to explain his decision not to hire Myers as being because of his record in Ohio, saying that it is “not concerning to us, it’s concerning to this institution.”

When asked if he thought his job offer was rescinded because he rejected the congressman’s sexual advances, Myers said via email: “The timing certainly raises the prospect of the answer being ‘yes.’”

Myers added that he didn’t think the incident that happened when he was a journalist should have been taken into account. “To say my previous debacle would be an issue is preposterous given the current makeup of actual criminals on staff,” Myers said.

See the evolution of lies in George Santos’s campaign biography

Santos was elected in November, flipping a swing district in a suburb of New York which helped Republicans gain a majority in the House. In December, the New York Times reported that Santos lied about his education and work background and that he had an unresolved criminal charge in Brazil, where he spent time growing up.

Soon, other outlets reported other apparent fabrications Santos has made, including claims that he is the descendant of Holocaust survivors, that his mother was in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and that he was forced to leave a prestigious prep school because of his family’s financial hardship.

Santos is also the subject of inquiries in New York and Washington. A complaint filed last month with the Federal Election Commission by a nonpartisan watchdog group accused Santos of wide-ranging campaign finance violations.

Santos admitted to what he described as résumé embellishments and claimed he has lived “an honest life.”

In George Santos’s district, voters feel a mix of regret and resignation

Despite those complaints, House Republicans sat Santos on the Small Business Committee and the Science Committee. Santos said last week that he was temporarily stepping down from those committees.

He told colleagues he was taking this step because “he’s a distraction,” according to a Republican lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

More on George Santos

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) was elected to Congress in November and faces calls to resign due to a long list of falsehoods he has told. Here is the list of Republicans calling for George Santos’ resignation.

What has Santos lied about? Santos fabricated much of his biography. The list of untruths is long, here are few: