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Republicans ignored Rep. George Santos’ red flags as he propelled himself to a House victory deceiving voters, NYT reports

George SantosRep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y., top center, sits in the House chamber on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.

Alex Brandon/AP Photo

  • An NYT report revealed that at least some of the GOP knew of Rep. George Santos’ lies.
  • Santos has faced calls for resignation after lying about key details of his background. 
  • “I guess unfortunately we rely on the person to be truthful to us,” the GOP Nassau County chairman told The Times.

Members of the GOP largely ignored red flags about newly sworn-in Rep. George Santos, according to a Friday report by The New York Times.

The 34-year-old congressman has garnered a great deal of scrutiny after having admitted to lying about key parts of his background — among them his prior work experience, his degrees, and his being of Jewish ancestry.

The Republican party in New York’s Nassau County accepted his fabricated resume and untruthful answers to a vetting questionnaire from Santos when he sought candidacy in 2020.

“I guess unfortunately we rely on the person to be truthful to us,” Joseph G. Cairo Jr., the GOP county chairman, told The Times.

According to the Times, Santos hired an unnamed Washington research firm to conduct a vulnerability study in connection to his campaign towards the end of 2021. The goal of the research was to identify potential problems rivals could use against him during his run for office.

In Santos’ case, the report found both degrees he claimed to have were a sham, that he had a connection to a firm accused of operating a Ponzi scheme, that he had been evicted on multiple occasions, that he had a suspended license, and that he was once married to a woman despite claiming to be openly gay.

Members of his campaign encouraged him to drop from the race after the report was sent to them in December 2021, but when he refused, most of his team quit, the Times reported. 

However, there were several instances when members of the state and national Republican party were told about Santos’s dishonesty, according to the Times.

Those who knew of Santos’s deceptions include a former advisor to Santos who told an unnamed state Republican official and a newspaper that declined to publicize Santos’s involvement in Harbor City Capital, the company accused of a Ponzi scheme, in the summer of 2021; a political donor who spoke on her distrust of Santos to Rep. Elise Stefanik after Santos baselessly claimed to have the endorsement of former President Donald Trump; and Dan Conston, an ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who told donors and others in their circle that he was concerned Santos was a fraud, according to the Times.

“But in each case, rather than denounce Mr. Santos publicly, the Republicans looked the other way. They neglected to get the attention of more powerful leaders or to piece together shards of doubt about him, and allowed him to run unopposed in the 2022 primary,” the Times reported, adding that some Republicans thought Santos was merely embellishing his resume while others believed Democrats would air his dirty laundry during the election.

But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee failed to follow up on red flags when looking into Rep. George Santos because researchers were encumbered with other researching dozens of other candidates, per the Times. In August 2022, the committee published a press release discussing Santos’s support of the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the overturning of Roe v. Wade in an attempt to persuade voters not to vote for him but did not highlight the lies about his background.

His political opponents, like Dem. incumbent Rep. Tom Suozzi, chose not to prioritize spending their campaign cash on digging up his background. And, as the Times reported, Santos’ lies also largely went unchecked because of a struggling media industry that didn’t have the time or resources to extensively dive into his candidacy.

“No one knew George Santos, and he had less than $50,000 in campaign funds against a popular incumbent who never even said his name,” Kim Devlin, a Suozzi adviser, told The Times. “We didn’t feed anything to the press because why would we give him press?”

Santos has faced multiple calls to resign but has remained steadfast in his conviction to complete his term despite deceiving 142,000 voters

Santos did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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