Inventing Santos: How a Far Right Con Man Lied His Way Into Congress

Over the previous few months I’ve, episodically, watched the Netflix collection Inventing Anna, which tells the story of the true-life con artist Anna Sorokin. It’s a captivating portrait of a really loathsome character, an individual who slashed and burned her approach by New York’s excessive society, dishonest, duping and cajoling individuals into trusting her — after which abusing that belief by ripping them off.

The longer the George Santos saga goes on, the extra Santos jogs my memory of Sorokin, conning mates and strangers alike. Two of his former roommates say he has been wearing clothing that he stole from them — together with the headband that he wore prominently on the “Cease the Steal” rally in D.C. on January 6, 2021. The identical roommate additionally instructed reporters that Santos used a made-up name (“Anthony Zabrovsky”) for himself whereas operating a GoFundMe for a faux nonprofit animal rescue group as a result of he thought “the Jews will give extra for those who’re a Jew.” And now a New Jersey veteran with a incapacity has come ahead accusing Santos of stealing $3,000 from an online fundraiser created for the lifesaving surgical procedure wanted by the veteran’s service canine.

And like Sorokin, his broader story is a tissue of lies, all of them crafted with two objectives in thoughts: self-aggrandizement and entry to straightforward cash. Regardless of what he has stated in his campaigns for a congressional seat on Lengthy Island, Santos isn’t wealthy, isn’t Jewish, isn’t faculty educated and didn’t work for high monetary establishments. He claimed his mother was a victim of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center — but, she died 15 years later, and stories have not too long ago surfaced suggesting that removed from working on the World Commerce Middle that day, Santos’s mother had been living in Brazil since 1999.

In the meantime, along with going through blowback over the fabricated biography that he shared with voters whereas campaigning, Santos can also be going through intensifying scrutiny into his campaign finances.

And revelations concerning the financial relationship between Santos and the New York fund manager Andrew Intrater (the cousin of a Russian oligarch named Viktor Vekselberg) have additionally raised new questions. As Mom Jones notes:

Intrater was one in every of Santos’ high political donors. At Santos’ behest, he invested tons of of 1000’s of {dollars} with a agency the place Santos labored. And even after this firm was accused by the Securities and Trade Fee of operating a Ponzi scheme that threatened Intrater’s funding, Intrater and his home companion continued to pour cash into Santos’ political marketing campaign…. [Intrater] has instructed associates that he, like others, was conned by Santos.

There may be, fairly merely, no there there. No grand ideological imaginative and prescient. No redeeming altruism which may, conceivably, mitigate the con. Like Anna Sorokin, so with Santos this appears to be merely concerning the frisson of ill-gotten superstar and pretend success. That is, finally, the story of a younger man on the prowl, attempting to find wealth and affect enhancement, and keen to burn those that stand in his approach.

It stays to be seen whether or not the controversy over Santos may turn out to be a catastrophic fissure for the GOP. However the indicators actually level in that course.

Santos has aligned himself with the hardest of hard right factions within Congress, hobnobbing with Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, and showing not too long ago on Steve Bannon’s “Warfare Room” podcast. He’s reveling in his grotesque con, and he’s being cheered on, obscenely, by a bunch of legislators hooked on the attentat, to spectacle for the sake of spectacle. Doubling down on his lies, as did Santos’s hero, Trump, so many occasions throughout his presidency, he has vowed to stay in office and to defeat the ethics investigations into his habits.

Having offered his political soul on so many events in recent times, Kevin McCarthy in all probability figured there wasn’t an enormous draw back to downplaying the seriousness of the allegations in opposition to the brand new congressman representing Lengthy Island. There was, in spite of everything, a sensible profit to this: In not urging that Santos be kicked out of the Home, McCarthy was defending his wafer-thin congressional majority, since, within the wake of this scandal, a particular election in Santos’s Lengthy Island district would virtually actually see the seat returning to the Democrats. In change for securing Santos’s vote for his candidacy to turn out to be Home speaker, McCarthy went predictably silent on the allegations in opposition to Santos; the truth is, removed from placing his political weight to work to drum him out of Congress, as an alternative he promised the incoming charlatan, who was being shunned by most of McCarthy’s caucus, memberships on Home committees. Positive sufficient, on January 18 it was introduced that Santos would be seated on the Committee on Small Business, and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Who is aware of, however possibly he’ll be capable to use his committee membership to suggest “artistic” methods to encourage small companies to develop into giant companies. He’s, in spite of everything, seemingly the grasp of the Ponzi scheme.

However all of this may finally generate a stench too odorous even for the stench-tolerant trendy GOP. Six New York Republicans in Congress have called for Santos to resign his seat. Former Congressman Peter King — a staunch conservative from New York — wrote an op-ed in the New York Times labeling the freshman congressman a “lifeless man strolling,” and demanding that Santos resign. The Nassau County GOP has also called for Santos’s resignation, as has at the very least one New York State senator and different senior state GOP and conservative celebration figures. Ex-Speaker Paul Ryan joined the list of these calling for Santos’s resignation, as did New Hampshire governor, and presidential hopeful, Chris Sununu. And, since Santos’s baggage is just prone to get heavier in coming weeks, now that groups of investigative journalists and prosecutors are poring over his each assertion, previous and current, the extra probably it’s that others will be part of the requires him to be faraway from workplace.

To be honest to the shameless younger congressman, Santos didn’t create the GOP’s vulnerabilities — he didn’t spin out of complete material the debased political situations that render attainable the emergence of a wholly fictitious political persona equivalent to Santos — however his presence in Congress is actually worsening them. He’s an impossibly tainted determine, with no believable path to political redemption. The longer McCarthy shields Santos, the extra injury he’ll probably do.