A Republican elected to Congress in November was facing a growing clamor for his resignation Tuesday after admitting that he made up large parts of his biography — but refusing to give up his seat.
George Santos’s victory in a New York district helped his party secure a narrow majority in the House of Representatives — Congress’s lower chamber.
But a New York Times investigation cast doubt on key parts of his education and work history that he touted during the campaign.
Santos admitted in two separate interviews Monday to significant fabrications of his resume, confessing that he’d neither worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup nor graduated from college, despite his claims to the contrary.
The Republican refused to give up his seat in Congress, however, telling the New York Post, “I’m not a criminal” — inviting comparisons with disgraced president Richard Nixon’s infamous 1973 declaration that “I am not a crook.”
Santos apologized for what he called “embellishing my resume” but some of his justifications for his dishonesty bordered on the absurd, particularly his defense of his false claim that he was Jewish.
“I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish,’” he told the Post.
Questions remain over Santos’s finances and Democrats have raised the possibility that he may have broken the law by lying in campaign disclosures.
Several members of President Joe Biden’s party have demanded that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy call a vote to expel Santos if he does not quit.
“His pitiful confession should not distract us from concerns about possible criminality and corruption,” New York congressman Ritchie Torres tweeted.
“The Ethics Committee MUST investigate how he made his money. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
California congressman Eric Swalwell accused Santos of “defrauding the voters of Long Island about his ENTIRE resume” while Democratic strategist Kurt Bardella urged McCarthy to “demand his resignation.”
“If he refuses, Santos should not be seated by the new Congress,” Bardella added.
Santos, who beat Democrat Robert Zimmerman in a newly-drawn district straddling Queens and Long Island, was at the vanguard of a Republican “wave” in New York that powered the party to a 222-212 House majority.
He initially posted a statement from his lawyer accusing the Times of “attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations.”
McCarthy has been questioned by reporters in Congress over the allegations but has so far avoided responding.