Opponent of Congressman-Elect George Santos Calls For Probe After False Claims Over Jewish Heritage
Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for New York’s 3rd Congressional district in November, called for a House ethics investigation Thursday following revelations that his opponent, Congressman-elect George Santos (R), fabricated significant parts of his background including his Jewish background.
“We call upon Congress and demand that Congress conduct a House ethics investigation into George Santos,” Zimmerman told a rally outside Nassau County Courthouse. “Making sure that the investigations proceed on the federal, state, and county level…making it clear that George Santos – if his name is ‘George Santos’ – making sure that George Santos does not belong in Congress.”
Santos is accused of lying about several elements of his biography, including his supposed Jewish heritage. In a tweet on 4 Nov., Santos said at a Chabad in his district that “it was an honor to address fellow members of the Jewish community.”The basis of Santos’ claim to ‘Jew-ish’ heritage was his longtime assertion that that his maternal grandparents were Jewish Holocaust survivors who eventually fled to Brazil, where his parents were born. The since-deleted opening line on the ‘About’ page on his campaign website said, “George’s grandparents fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII.” That claim, which he has made repeatedly in interviews and statements, appears to be false, with records indicating that Santos’ maternal grandparents were born in Brazil.
Santos later admitted in an interview with the New York Post Monday to “embellishing” his résumé, including claims to have worked for Citibank and Goldman Sachs, and that he was a graduate of CUNY Baruch. He told The Post that he had “never claimed to be Jewish.” “I said I was ‘Jew-ish,’”
ABC News reported Wednesday that federal prosecutors are examining Santos’s campaign filings, while Newsday reported that the Republican District Attorney of Nassau County had opened an investigation into Santos.
Zimmerman, who lost the November general election against Santos 54 to 46, called for a rematch on Tuesday in light of the revelations. “If you’re so convinced that NY3 voters still trust you – resign & run against me again in a special election,” Zimmerman said on Twitter. “Face the voters with your real past & answer questions about your criminal history. Let the voters decide.”
Santos has said that he intends to take his seat on Jan. 3.
Elected Democrats, while echoing calls for Santos to resign, have also had fun at his expense over the scandal.
“I am introducing a bill to require candidates to disclose under oath their employment, educational, & military history so we can punish candidates who lie to voters about their qualifications,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY-13) said Thursday. “It will be called the Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker (SANTOS) ACT.”
Follow Algemeiner Washington Correspondent Andrew Bernard on Twitter @AndrewJBernie