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Lying to Voters

Thu, 12/29/2022 - 10:19


What is remarkable about the recent news about a congressman-elect who campaigned — twice — on a raft of made-up claims is not that he lied, but that he was able to obtain a major political party’s support. As of this writing George Santos, who was elected in November to New York’s Third District in Nassau and part of Queens, continued to insist that he would take the oath of office on Jan. 3 as a member of the House Republican majority, even though in a press conference on Monday, Mr. Santos admitted that nearly everything he had said about his background was false, including graduating from college, working for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, a 13-property real estate portfolio, even his religion. Details of his fabrications were extensively reported by The New York Times, which uncovered that he owed thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and, years earlier, had pleaded guilty to check forgery in Brazil.

Mr. Santos will also have to confront mysteries contained in his federal campaign finance disclosures, in which he reported earning millions from a company that he controls but that has no known assets. He lied about four fictitious employees of his fictitious business who he said were killed in the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. He lied about being Jewish and even starting an animal rescue organization that he said saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.

It is regrettable, but perhaps not surprising that a credulous Long Island Republican political machine would overlook Mr. Santos’s implausible biography. As an openly gay candidate who immigrated from Brazil, he might have appeared to be a terrific choice to run in a district that went for Joe Biden in 2020. It is stunning that the Democratic Party would essentially cede the race to him without doing even the most basic background research. His win in November helped Republicans gain their upcoming control of the House of Representatives.

Democrats underperformed on Long Island in the last election. This may be in part due to strong turnout for the Republican candidate for governor, Lee Zeldin of Shirley. This may have also been key in Nick LaLota’s win over Bridget Fleming in the First District — though her hailing from the relatively sparsely populated East End was also a factor. The Democrat who ran for the seat in 2018, Perry Gershon of East Hampton, went down to defeat, as did the unknown Nancy Goroff two years later. Clearly, Democrats need to field better candidates on Long Island, but they also need to pay a lot more attention to the opposition the next time around.

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