George Santos Made Up An Entire Life for Himself. And As of Tuesday, He’ll Be a Congressman.

James Surowiecki
5 min readDec 31, 2022
George Santos, appearing on Empire State Conservatives Podcast (Creative Commons)

The George Santos story just keeps getting weirder, because the list of lies he’s told over the past few years just keeps getting longer. Santos is the congressman-elect from New York’s 3rd District, which covers parts of Queens and northern Long Island. He won the race by eight points, which was a convincing victory in a district that Biden actually won in 2020. But as everyone now knows, he did so under what can only charitably be called false pretenses.

During his campaign, Santos said he had worked for Goldman, Sachs and Citigroup. He had not. He said he had graduated from Baruch College. He hadn’t. (In fact, it’s not clear he ever went to Baruch at all.) He said he owned thirteen properties. He owns none. And, most egregiously, he called himself a “proud American Jew,” and said his maternal grandparents had had to emigrate from Belgium as a result of the Holocaust (after, he said, they had migrated from Ukraine to Belgium as a result of anti-Semitic persecution). His maternal grandparents had not fled the Holocaust, and were born in Brazil. And Santos is not Jewish.

More substantively, there are lots of still-unanswered questions about Santos’ finances. He was in financial trouble for a lot of the previous decade, and when he first ran for Congress in 2020, he reported, on his financial disclosure form, having no assets and a $55,000 salary. But on his 2022 form, he reported a net worth in the millions, supposedly the result of dividends and salary paid to him by a financial-services company he recently formed called the Devolder Organization. That company also loaned his campaign $700,000. But what the Devolder Organization actually does, and how Santos went from having essentially nothing to supposedly being a multi-millionaire, remains a mystery. (Santos told Semafor that Devolder was in the “capital introduction” business, and that it did “deal building” and “specialty consulting,” which is just mumbo-jumbo.)

Adding to the strangeness, Santos appears to have lied about, or at least “embellished,” a bunch of other stuff about his life, often in ways that try to connect him to high-profile events. He’s claimed that his mother died as a result of 9/11, although she didn’t die until 2016 and there’s no record of…

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James Surowiecki

I’m the author of The Wisdom of Crowds. I’ve been a business columnist for Slate and The New Yorker and written for a wide range of other publications.