George Santos, a New York Republican, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last month. Several inconsistencies in Santos’ resumé were exposed in a New York Times article published weeks after the election. Multiple media outlets have since revealed additional fabrications in his website bio, social media posts, and claims he’s made in campaign speeches and interviews.
Constitutionally, nothing can be done to stop Santos from being sworn into Congress next week. In the 1969 Powell v. McCormack U.S. Supreme Court case, justices ruled that the House cannot refuse to seat a candidate whom voters in that person’s state has duly elected. It would require a two-thirds House vote to remove an elected member, and expulsion could only occur after that person has been officially seated and an investigation has been conducted.
Republican Congressman-elect Nick LaLota, a Navy veteran who’s also from New York, wrote this in a statement he shared via Twitter: “I believe a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement, is required.” The Republican-majority House is unlikely to expel Santos. At most, he won’t be given any meaningful committee assignments.
The GOP tokenized Herschel Walker, a former Heisman Trophy winner and pro football athlete who had no political experience, as it attempted to secure Georgia’s coveted seat in the U.S. Senate. Weeks before the election, two women accused Walker of pressuring them to have abortions. He denied these allegations. It wasn’t enough to compel pro-life conservatives to withdraw their support of Walker. But what if Walker or any other Black man had lied as elaborately as Santos did about his credentials?
If Santos were a Black man, he wouldn’t have gotten elected. He would’ve been more thoroughly vetted prior to being allowed to run for the seat to represent New York’s third congressional district. If not prior to the primary, his lies definitely would’ve come out before the November general election. Even if he somehow managed to escape an ‘October Surprise’ (a bombshell that has high potential of tanking a political campaign), someone surely would’ve come forward with facts about him before a majority of misinformed New York residents entered voting booths to cast their ballots for a fraud.
Even if, under the unlikeliest of circumstances, a lying Black political candidate miraculously got elected to Congress and then his fibs were revealed 4-6 weeks later, the opponent he beat or someone else would’ve found some way to get the results immediately overturned in the courts. Maybe even the voters themselves would’ve sued, as they were duped into voting for a candidate who presented fake credentials and made-up stories. Plans to swear him into a congressional office on January 3 wouldn’t proceed.
Washington Post journalist Aaron Blake analyzed and aggregated several Santos falsehoods. Reportedly, Santos lied about having earned a bachelor’s degree from Baruch College and a law degree from NYU; he hasn’t graduated from any higher education institution. He also lied about working for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
Santos reported that he and his family own 13 homes they lease as rental properties; neither his nor any immediate family members’ names showed up in public housing records. In an interview on ‘Police Off The Record,’ a YouTube show hosted by two former NYPD officers, Santos claimed that he attended Horace Mann, an expensive private school in the Bronx, but had to drop out four months before graduation because his family couldn’t afford the tuition. Horace Mann’s records don’t show that he was ever a student there.
Last month, Santos tweeted, “It was an honor to address fellow members of the Jewish community,” along with photos of himself and two rabbis. The keyword in this tweet is “fellow.” Santos had previously and repeatedly claimed to be a “proud American Jew” and said his grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Those were lies. He later explained that he’s “Jew-ish,” because his mother’s family is from a Jewish “background.” Santos now admits that he’s Catholic.
Federal prosecutors are now investigating Santos’ finances because math about more than $700,000 in contributions to his congressional campaign doesn’t add up; it also doesn’t match his tax records. “The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-elect Santos are nothing short of stunning,” Anne Donnelly, a Republican who serves as the Nassau County District Attorney, said in a statement. “No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”
Speaking of a crime, Blake reports that Santos was allegedly charged with signing someone else’s name to stolen checks he wrote in Brazil in 2008, but wasn’t convicted because he never showed up in court. Of course Santos made no mention of having a criminal history to New York voters.
“I made a mistake, and I think humans are flawed and we all make mistakes,” Santos declared in a Fox News interview with former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). “In order to move past this and move forward and be an effective member of Congress, I have to face my mistakes.”
Here’s the thing: Black men don’t get away with “mistakes” of this magnitude. The racialized double standard starts early. Research shows that Black boys are suspended and expelled from K-12 schools far more frequently than are white boys whose misbehaviors are the same or worse. In our study of 3,022 public school districts across 13 southern states, Edward J. Smith and I found that Black boys were 24% of students enrolled, yet comprised 47% of suspensions and 44% of expulsions.
Barack Obama would’ve been impeached and swiftly evicted from the White House had he behaved like Donald Trump. In fact, Obama never would’ve been elected had an audio recording emerged of him bragging about sexually assaulting women, or if he said even a fraction of the outrageously offensive things Trump said while campaigning for the presidency.
The overwhelming majority of Americans who participated in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol were white men. Imagine if they’d been Black. Undoubtedly, they would’ve been swiftly gunned down at the scene of the crime. Or at very least, they would’ve been met with the same force they encountered when Trump walked through a mostly peaceful protest near the White House following the murder of George Floyd.
Because he’s lied so much, there really is no telling how Santos identifies racially or ethnically at this point. Perhaps Brazilian-American, who knows? There’s a chance that many voters read Santos as white; he therefore benefits from white privilege and its corresponding protections. Few, if any, mistook him to be a Black man. If they had, there’s no way Santos would’ve gotten away with so many lies prior to or after his election to Congress.