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Republican Rep.-elect George Santos may have misrepresented parts of his resume, a CNN review of his public statements confirms.
The New York Times on Monday, citing public documents and court records, first reported that key parts of Santos’ biography were either contradicted or not supported by evidence. A CNN review of claims Santos has made about his education and employment history found the same discrepancies.
CNN has reached out to Santos for comment. The Times report says Santos did not respond to repeated requests to furnish documents that would help to substantiate the claims while campaigning.
The discrepancies raise ethical and legal questions for Santos as he prepares to officially take on his role as a lawmaker in January as part of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
Joseph Murray, an attorney for Santos, told CNN in a statement that the Times was attempting to “smear” the congressman-elect with “defamatory allegations.”
“Santos represents the kind of progress that the Left is so threatened by – a gay, Latino, immigrant and Republican who won a Biden district in overwhelming fashion by showing everyday voters that there is a better option than the broken promises and failed policies of the Democratic Party,” Murray said.
Santos’ biography has at times listed an education at Baruch College and New York University, earning degrees in finance and economics. A NYU spokesperson, John Beckman, told CNN, “the University’s records do not reflect anyone with that name [George Anthony Devolder-Santos] having attended NYU.” A spokesperson for Baruch College told CNN it could not find a record of anyone with his name or birthday ever attending the school.
On a biography of Santos on the National Republican Congressional Committee website, he claimed he received degrees from New York University and Baruch College. CNN found that Santos specified in at least two separate interviews in the fall of 2020 that he received an MBA from NYU, adding in one interview that he had “zero debt” from his undergraduate and graduate studies. A review of his campaign websites, however, does not show references to a master’s degree.
Santos’ campaign biography also included mention of experience at financial firms Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but both told CNN they had no record of his employment.
CNN also confirmed that Santos listed on his 2022 financial disclosure a salary of $750,000 this year and last at the Devolder Organization, which Santos has claimed is a “family firm” managing $80 million in assets.
A search for the Devolder Organization found that the business was registered in Florida in 2021 and was most recently temporarily deemed “inactive” by the state after failing to file the required annual reports. A website or LinkedIn profile could not be found, and Santos failed to report any of the clients he served in his financial disclosure.
Santos also claimed he founded and ran his own charity called “Friends of Pets United.” But no such organization was found in the IRS’ searchable database, nor in the registered charities in New York state and Florida. The nonprofit supposedly ran from 2013-2018, according to a story from a local newspaper, The Queens Gazette, announcing Santos’ first run for Congress in 2019.
Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in a newly drawn district covering parts of Queens and some nearby Long Island suburbs, flipping control to Republicans, who dominated the New York suburbs on their way to winning a House majority. The GOP mini-wave outside the city set off roiling recriminations among New York Democrats, including calls for the state party chair to step down.
It was Santos’ second run – he lost to Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi in 2020 – and most of the criticism he faced centered on his attendance of former President Donald Trump’s rally in Washington on January 6, 2021, and a video in which he claimed to have written a “nice check” to help alleged rioters with their legal fees.
His campaign message was largely focused on crime and inflation.
In a brief interview with CNN, New York state Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs pushed back against suggestions the party or Zimmerman campaign had dropped the ball and sought to redirect attention to questions about Santos’ financial statements.
“It’s unfair to blame the campaign for opposition research work that it did because the resources of a campaign are not as significant as a paper like The New York Times, that can do a lot more with its investigation,” Jacobs said. “The important thing is to focus on George Santos. He’s got a lot of explaining to do. And I think that his biggest vulnerability is in the area of campaign finance.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting and reaction.