In the wake of accusations that gay Republican Congressman-elect George Santos falsified his resume, the gay Democrat he defeated in a New York congressional district in November, says it was clear to him that Santos was not what he claimed to be.
"My campaign has been calling out [Santos's] scams and lies about himself for several months. We've worked to raise many of these issues," Robert Zimmerman said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Santos beat Zimmerman by eight percentage points
to win an open seat in New York's Third Congressional District, which covers most of the north shore of Long Island. The race was notable for having two out candidates,
a first in a a general election, and the result was surprising because the district is majority Democratic.
Now questions have been raised about Santos's background.
He said he had worked for financial firms Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but a New York Times investigation found no record of him having been employed at either. It also found no record that he graduated from Baruch College, as he claimed, and it reported that he had never registered his nonprofit pet rescue organization with the Internal Revenue Service. His assertion that he lost four employees in the 2016 Pulse nightclub mass shooting appears to be false as well. He had faced eviction for nonpayment of rent at two apartments in Queens and was charged with check fraud in Brazil, where his parents are from.
"The reality is Santos flat-out lied to the voters of #NY03. He's violated the public trust in order to win office and does not deserve to represent #LongIsland and #Queens," Zimmerman wrote, adding that Santos's "failure to answer any of the questions about these allegations demonstrates why he is unfit for public office and should resign."
"The scale of his alleged deception is so glaring -- even cursory fact checks seemed likely to find holes -- that it's already spawned a secondary scandal: How did both news outlets and Democratic opposition researchers in the largest metro area in America miss this until after the election?" news site Semafor notes. Some questions were raised about Santos before the election, the site reports, but the Times investigation went much further.
Santos had even run for the congressional seat previously, in 2020, when he lost to incumbent Democrat Tom Suozzi, and Suozzi's campaign apparently did not discover the inconsistencies in Santos's biography, Arick Wierson reports in an opinion piece for NBC News. The Republican Party may have been "hoodwinked" by Santos too, Wierson writes.
Meanwhile, Santos's lawyer Joseph Murray has responded to the Times report not by addressing the allegations but by saying Santos is everything liberals hate and fear -- and by using a fake quote from famed U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
"George Santos represents the kind of progress that the Left is so threatened by -- a gay, Latino, first generation American and Republican who won a Biden district in overwhelming fashion by showing everyday voters that there is a better option than the broken promises and failed policies of the Democratic Party," Murray said in a statement shared on Santos's Twitter account.
Murray said that it wasn't surprising that the Times targeted the representative-elect, and the paper was "attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations."
But Churchill never said that, according to PolitiFact.
Instead, it's a "modernized variation" of something French author Victor Hugo wrote in an essay in 1845, 30 years before Churchill was born, the site reported in 2019. The original Hugo quote is "You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do not bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear."
The misattribution of the quote to Churchill is common, experts on the British statesman told the site.