While living in Brazil, Mr Santos also reportedly performed as a drag queen named Kitara Ravache as a young man.
In January, Brazilian drag artist Eula Rochard posted photos to social media herself with a person wearing a red dress, bright red lipstick and dangling chandelier earrings who she identified as Mr Santos.
A Politico investigation later found that a user on Wikipedia named Anthony Devolder claimed to have participated in drag shows in Brazil as a teenager.
Mr Santos issued a furious denial of the claims on social media, at a time when his Republican Party was vilifying and seeking to ban drag queens from performing in some states.
He called allegations that he “‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false.” However, the next day, Mr Santos appeared to admit that he had participated in drag. “I was young and I had fun at a festival. Sue me for having a life,” he said.
He moved back to New York in 2011, working as a bilingual customer services representative at a call centre for Dish Network, a satellite TV firm, in Queens, where he would have earned about $15 an hour.
Mr Santos exhaled a stream of lies over a series of interviews: he alleged to have graduated from NYU business school, played as a star vollyeball player at Baruch College, attended the elite private school Horace Mann in New York, but failed to graduate due to financial difficulties, and worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. These claims have either been disproven or not substantiated.
In February, the non-profit Reclaim the Records obtained court records showing he married a Brazilian woman in 2012. His former wife, who has not been identified, filed for divorce in 2019.
He has since said he is married to a Brazilian man, whom he identified by the first name of Matt. He reportedly told Brazilian publication Piaui in November 2020 that his husband’s name is Matheus Gerard.
Bevan Hurley20 November 2023 07:00
A ‘first generation American’
Given his prodigious propensity for telling fibs, basic details of Mr Santos’ personal history, such as his real name, marital status, and precisely where he was born merit a healthy dose of skepticism.
According to his congressional website, Mr Santos is a “first generation American” born in Jackson Heights, Queens, in July 1988. His parents were both Brazilian immigrants – Fátima Devolder, who worked as a housekeeper, and Gercino Antônio dos Santos Jr, a house painter. He has a younger sister, Tiffany Lee Devolder Santos.
Former co-workers who worked with Mr Santos at Dish Network in College Point in 2011 and 2012 told Patch that he used to tell them he was born in Brazil. Then, he was known as Anthony Devolder or George Devolder.
His true birthplace is significant because the Constitution requires members of Congress to have been US citizens for seven years before election. Mr Santos has claimed in interviews that he is a dual citizen of Brazil and the United States.
Tiffany Bogosian told the Washington Post that even at a young age, Mr Santos would fabricate parts of his biography. She put this down to his impoverished background, and said he had still been learning English while at junior high and was bullied during his time there.
From 2008 to 2011, Mr Santos lived in Brazil where his mother was living at the time.
In 2008, Mr Santos was accused by Brazilian authorities of using a stolen checkbook and fake name at a clothing shop outside Rio de Janeiro. Citing court documents, the New York Times reported that Mr Santos told police in 2010 that he and his mother had stolen a checkbook from a man that she used to work for, and used it to make $1,300 in illegal purchases of clothes and shoes.
In March, Mr Santos admitted the crime and agreed to pay the victim back as part of a non-prosecution agreement, CNN reported.
On the campaign trail, Mr Santos repeatedly claimed that he is of Jewish descent and that his grandparents were European Jews who fled Hitler.
Jewish cultural groups and online sleuths later unearthed records showing his grandparents were born in Brazil.
Mr Santos later clarified to the New York Post that he had said he was “Jew-ish”.
Bevan Hurley20 November 2023 05:00
The incredible rise and dramatic fall of George Santos
Congressman George Santos’ tenure has been anything but dull — his rise to power and fall from grace have been equally mired in controversy.
After less than two years in Congress, his list of lies and scandals appears to have finally grown too long for him to defend anymore, as he announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2024 after the release of a damning House Ethics Committee report.
The committee said it found “substantial evidence” that Mr Santos had broken federal laws after finding “additional uncharged and unlawful conduct,” which included using campaign funds to make purchases at Hermes, Sephora and OnlyFans.
In 2022, Mr Santos was elected as the Republican Party’s first openly gay, non-incumbent member of Congress, and touted himself as a living embodiment of the American dream.
Bevan Hurley20 November 2023 03:00
‘A disgusting politicized smear’
The report also examined Mr Santos’s use of Redstone Strategies, a limited liability corporation affiliated with him, and how at least $200,000 worth of money was transferred from its account to Mr Santos’s personal account. After one $50,000 transfer, Mr Santos paid down credit card debt, made a $4,127.80 purchase at Hermes and smaller purchases at OnlyFans and Sephora as well as for meals and parking.
“As detailed above, there is substantial evidence that Representative Santos participated in and financially benefited from a fraudulent scheme involving RedStone,” the report said. “Representative Santos furthered the scheme through lies and misrepresentations about the nature of his connection to RedStone, just as he had done with a predecessor company, Red Strategies.”
But Mr Santos released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, pushing back on the accusations, specifically the claim that he did not comply with the investigation.
“It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk,” he said. “Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves.”
The report comes shortly after the House of Representatives held a vote to expel him led by his fellow New York Republicans. But the resolution failed, with many Democrats voting against the expulsion.
Late last month, Mr Santos appeared in court to be arraigned on new criminal charges after a superseding indictment accused him of additional charges on top of the ones he had already received, including making tens of thousands of charges on credit cards that belonged to donors.
So far, Mr Santos has defiantly refused to resign. Despite the fact that many Republicans in his home state and elsewhere want him to resign, Republican leadership is reluctant to push him out because they have a slim majority where they can only afford to lose four members on any given vote.
Eric Garcia20 November 2023 01:00
‘He failed to take meaningful action'
Much of the report focused on Mr Santos’s relationship with his campaign treasurer Nancy Marks. Last month, Ms Marks pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud, among other charges, to help Mr Santos’s campaign. The report said that Mr Santos put most of the blame on Ms Marks.
“Even if Representative Santos was not aware of all of the other errors in his campaign reports relating to other receipts and disbursements, he had his own concerns and was repeatedly advised by multiple members of his team about concerns regarding Ms Marks, but he failed to take meaningful action,” the report said.
Similarly, the report found that Mr Santos did not loan his campaign money that he had reported he did in his campaign finance disclosures. The committee found that Mr Santos’s campaign did not have enough money to pay its outstanding debts, with one staffer going eight months without pay.
Along with fraudulently reporting loans he never made, the committee also alleged that Mr Santos spent campaign money for personal use. Among the expenses, the Office of Congressional Ethics found that Mr Santos traveled out of his district at least once a month.
Eric Garcia19 November 2023 23:00
‘A constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff’
The House Ethics Committee launched its investigation into Mr Santos earlier this year into whether he engaged in illegal activity during his 2022 congressional campaign. In May, the committee expanded its investigation.
“He used his connections to high value donors and other political campaigns to obtain additional funds for himself through fraudulent or otherwise questionable business dealings,” the report said. “And he sustained all of this through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience.”
Mr Santos began to come under serious scrutiny almost as soon as he flipped a district that includes parts of Queens and Long Island that had voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, as Republicans barely gained the majority in the US House of Representatives. News reports shortly thereafter revealed that he had fabricated multiple parts of his life story, including where he went to college, his employment history and even his ethnicity.
The report said that Mr Santos was the “ultimate beneficiary and knowing participant” of much of his campaign’s fraudulent reporting, since they allowed him to meet benchmarks to receive national party support.
Eric Garcia19 November 2023 21:00
House Ethics Committee report finds ‘substantial’ evidence that George Santos broke federal laws
The House Ethics Committee – a bipartisan committee made up of members from both parties – released its report on Thursday after a months-long investigation into the embattled freshman Republican.
In a press statement on the report, the committee alleged that Mr Santos “knowingly” caused his campaign committee to file false and incomplete reports to the Federal Election Commission; used campaign cash for personal expenses; engaged in fraudulent conduct with Redstone Strategies, a company he co-owned; and committed “knowing and willful violations” of the “Ethics in Government Act.”
“In light of the ongoing criminal investigation into Representative Santos, and the ISC’s findings of additional uncharged and unlawful conduct by Representative Santos, the [Investigative Subcommittee] recommended that the Committee immediately refer these allegations to the Department of Justice,” the committee said in a statement.
Eric Garcia19 November 2023 19:00
‘Santos should end this farce and resign immediately'
George Santos, who has evaded two votes to oust him from the House, was severely criticised by his New York Republican colleagues.
“George Santos should end this farce and resign immediately,” Rep Mike Lawler told Semafor. “If he refuses, he must be removed from Congress. His conduct is not only unbecoming and embarrassing, it is criminal. He is unfit to serve and if he had any dignity, he would resign today.”
Fellow New York GOP Rep Nick LaLota told the outlet that Mr Santos “was never running for re-election” and noted that he thinks the legal and ethics investigations into him would end before election season.
“The question now is: Will he take a plea deal that includes resignation before November 28th when the House returns to session and can expel him?” he asked.
Gustaf Kilander19 November 2023 17:00
‘George Santos is finally taking a step in the right direction'
Kellen Curry, a Republican running for the GOP nomination in Mr Santos’s district, told The Independent: “George Santos is finally taking a step in the right direction, but our country is at a crossroads.”
“Today marks the beginning of a renewed focus on the issues that matter, instead of the distraction of the last 11 months,” he added.
Kelly Rissman19 November 2023 15:00
‘Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves,’ Santos says
Mr Santos slammed the panel on X, writing: “If there was a single ounce of ETHICS in the ‘Ethics committee’, they would have not released this biased report. The Committee went to extraordinary lengths to smear myself and my legal team about me not being forthcoming (My legal bills suggest otherwise).”
“It is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk. Everyone who participated in this grave miscarriage of Justice should all be ashamed of themselves,” he added.
“All this Congress wants to do is attack their political enemies with tit for tat unconstitutional censures, impeachments, expulsions and ethics investigations,” Mr Santos wrote. “THE TIME IS NOW FOR THE STATES TO RISE UP AND COMMENCE AN ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION! I’ve come to expect vitriol like this from political opposition but not from the hallowed halls of public service.”
Gustaf Kilander19 November 2023 13:00