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Rep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y
Rep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y, speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas.John Locher / AP file

Incoming GOP congressman accused of radical public deceptions

Résumé inflation is common in politics, but Republican Rep.-elect George Santos is accused of touting a personal narrative that was effectively fiction.

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As the new Congress prepares to begin in a couple of weeks, Rep.-elect George Santos stands out as a unique figure. The 34-year-old New Yorker, elected in a Long Island district that President Joe Biden won fairly easily two years earlier, became the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent.

Now, however, he appears likely to be known for something else entirely. The New York Times reported this morning:

By his account, [Santos] catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats. But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.

To be sure, résumé inflation is a familiar but unfortunate phenomenon in politics. There are too many examples of assorted candidates exaggerating their military backgrounds, for example. Others have embellished their academic or business experiences to appear more impressive to voters.

But the Times’ report, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, paints a qualitatively different kind of picture: This is less a story about a young politician who tweaked his résumé with some mild exaggerations, and more a story about an incoming congressman who appears to have engaged in radical public deceptions about who he is.

Voters were told, for example, that Santos attended NYU. The school has no record of a student matching his name or birth date. He also said he graduated in 2010 from Baruch College, which also “could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.”

The Republican then supposedly worked at Citigroup as “an associate asset manager.” The finance giant has no record of his employment — or his supposed title. He also claimed to spend some time at Goldman Sachs, which came as a surprise to Goldman Sachs.

Santos claimed to help run a tax-exempt organization that the Internal Revenue Service has never heard of, and also claimed to own a company — the Devolder Organization — that is “something of a mystery.” The Times added, “And while Mr. Santos has described a family fortune in real estate, he has not disclosed, nor could The Times could find, records of his properties.”

Not to put too fine a point on this, but the article seems to characterize Santos as having run a successful congressional campaign while touting a personal narrative that was effectively fiction.

The New York Republican wouldn’t respond to the newspaper’s questions, and when a reporter went to his ostensible address — where he is registered to vote — the person who answered the door yesterday said “she was not familiar with him.”

The list of questions surrounding reporting like this is not short, but let’s start with this one: Is it too early to talk about whether Santos should resign?

While we’re at it, what is it about contemporary Republican politics that makes it a haven for so many suspected con men?

Finally, how is it possible that Democratic officials in New York failed to uncover this before Santos won by eight points in a relatively “blue” district?