The U.S. Republican’s biography, work history and life story nothing more than a pack of lies and falsehoods
Tim Russert served as the moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press from 1991 to 2008. He asked longtime Republican Senator Bob Dole this question during an April 10, 2005 interview, “You’ve been on Meet the Press 63 times, which is more than anyone else in history. On this program, have you ever told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
Dole paused for a few seconds. He briefly looked away, then produced this answer with his usual deadpan humour, “Probably not.”
Both men laughed. Russert’s was the loudest of the two.
I was reminded of this memorable exchange on Monday. A June 13, 2018, tweet from Meet the Press’s Twitter handle containing it had started circulating again, and I happened to catch it.
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Dole’s response to Russert was emblematic of the way politics used to be. Most viewers knew this experienced politician had been asked mountains of questions during various radio, TV and print interviews. They assumed he answered most of them truthfully, but the possibility of embellishing a response wasn’t entirely out of the question.
Dole confirmed the obvious. Few people would have raised an eyebrow. Most would have laughed along with him and Russert. Many would have praised him for his honesty.
Let’s contrast this moment to what’s been going on with George Santos.
The freshman Republican representative has been the biggest story in U.S. politics for a few weeks. While his upset victory in New York’s third congressional district helped the GOP win a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives, that’s not the reason why. Rather, his biography, work history and life story have mostly turned out to be nothing more than a pack of lies and falsehoods.
Santos’s resume was reprinted by the New York Times. He claimed to have graduated from Baruch College in 2010 with a 3.89 GPA (“Ranked in Top one per cent of class”) and to have an MBA in International Business from New York University in 2013 (“GMAT 710”).
Neither claim was true. He has a high school equivalency diploma, however.
Santos claimed he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and described himself as a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor.”
Neither claim was true. He did work in customer service at the Dish Network. He was also employed at Harbor City Capital Corp., which the SEC described as a ‘classic Ponzi scheme” in April 2021 and closed down. (Santos was not named in the lawsuit, having already left Harbor. He said it was “100 per cent legitimate” when he worked there.)
Santos, who is Brazilian and Catholic, claimed to have biracial roots through an African father. He also claimed several times to have Ukrainian Jewish heritage through his maternal grandparents, who supposedly escaped the Holocaust.
Both claims have been investigated, and neither is true. “I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic,” he said during a New York Post interview. “Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
This would have been bad enough, but there’s more.
Santos confirmed to the Post that he’s “very much gay” but conveniently ignored the fact he was married to a woman from 2012 to 2019. He’s used various aliases, including Anthony Zabrovsky and Anthony Devolder. There are serious questions surrounding his residential claims, evictions, and debts reportedly related to unpaid rent and property damages. He claimed to have had a brain tumour, which remains unsubstantiated. He was charged with check fraud while living in Brazil in 2010. The case was archived in 2013 when they couldn’t uncover his whereabouts, but it will now be reopened by Brazilian authorities.
Lies, lies and more lies.
Santos is far from the only U.S. politician to have either lied or embellished the truth. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal’s claim that he served in Vietnam was disproven in 2010, and he was eventually forced to apologize. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said she had Native American heritage for more than two decades, which was disproven by a DNA test in 2019 and she apologized. Former U.S. President Donald Trump has been mentioned many times in this fashion – and his successor, U.S. President Joe Biden, is starting to catch up.
Is Santos the worst example in U.S. political history? Yes. His resume is pure fiction. His life has largely been a fictionalized account with a multitude of lies, mistruths and rubbish statements. If there was ever a true grifter in politics, it’s him.
His only saving grace? House Republicans need every vote to protect their small majority and pass legislation. They’re unwilling to remove Santos from the party caucus for this reason. His job is safe for the time being, and he’ll continue to earn the U.S.$174,000 a year salary until something changes.
In less than two decades, we’ve gone from a small, amusing admission from an experienced politician of not always telling the truth in a TV interview to a political novice and serial liar serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s the sad state of affairs in modern politics, and it likely won’t get better anytime soon.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.
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