George Santos voters feel a mix of regret and resignation

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ALBERTSON, NY — Sitting in the basement of an American Legion building, an American flag tucked in the corner and the sounds of a church rock band playing overhead, a group gathered for a local Republican club meeting to discuss one thing: Rep. . George Santos .

“Every day he is there, we are suffering. I mean, he became a joke on late night talk shows, but to us it’s not funny because we deserve a real congressman,” said North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, who supported Santos during his campaign but since then asked him to resign. .

Santos (RN.Y.) voters say they already saw him as a fresh face for the Republican Party, a promising candidate who could topple New York’s 3rd Congressional District from Democratic control. During his campaign, Santos praised his success as a businessman and his lineage as a first-generation American with roots in Brazil. He pledged to work to reduce inflation, fight crime and protect the US southern border.

But Santos’ tenure in Congress was destroyed before it even started, when the New York Times reported that he forged large parts of his resume, including that he had an MBA from New York University and worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs – none of which are true.

What followed was a consistent trickle of new details, seemingly every day, that painted Santos’ image as a serial fabulist, ranging from minor embellishments to statements now subject to investigation by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York. He faced calls from his fellow Republicans in the House to resign, as well as from local Republican officials.

Nassau County, New York Republican Party Chairman Joseph Cairo said on January 11 that Representative George Santos (RN.Y.) should resign after lying about his past. (Video: Washington Post)

The trail of untruths of Republican deputy George Santos

Santos has admitted to some embellishments about his past, but has said he will not resign.

Caught in the middle of the drama are the 746,449 constituents of the Santos District, which spans parts of northeast Queens to cities along Long Island’s North Shore. In interviews with The Washington Post over several days, residents who supported Santos said they both regretted their choice and resigned themselves to their status as members of Congress.

But the overriding sentiment, among Republicans and Democrats alike, was pure anger and a sense of having been duped.

“George Santos deceived us. He deceived the Republicans and he deceived the Democrats,” said Jody Kass Finkel, co-founder of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a nonpartisan resident group calling for Santos’ resignation. “He’s a liar. He’s a cheat. And he’s probably a criminal.

‘The damage is already done’

In Manhasset, a city that exemplifies the places where Santos won overwhelmingly, salons, clothing boutiques, artisan bakeries and cafes line old brick storefronts. The city is located a few train stops from Manhattan, where many residents of this area work. On the outskirts of town are spacious multi-million dollar homes, country clubs and private schools.

Joe Biden won the district by nine percentage points in 2020. But in 2022, concerns over public safety, immigration and the economy propelled Santos to the seat over his Democratic opponent Robert Zimmerman, shifting the seat from Democratic control to Republican control.

Despite Santos’ indiscretions, several Nassau County voters admitted that they thought it better to have a Republican occupy the seat than open it up for another election and risk losing it to a Democrat.

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Henry Golis, an Albertson resident who is involved with the Albertson/Roslyn Heights Republican Club, said he voted for Santos for his views on securing the southern border and boosting the economy. He said recent reports about Santos’ inventions had been “shocking”, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

“The damage has already been done. He’s already said he’s not going to resign,” Golis said.

Several Republicans in Congress have called for Santos to step down or have expressed caution about working with him. mayor Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) called Santos a “bad guy” and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) called him an “impostor.”

Despite calls for resignation and general concerns, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-California) did not accede to Santos’ requests for resignation and assigned him seats on two committees. McCarthy has a slim four-vote majority in the House, and earlier this month Santos voted to support him on all 15 ballots McCarthy needed to win the president’s gavel.

On Jan. 11, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-California) told reporters that Representative George Santos (RN.Y.) “has a right to serve” despite pressure for Santos to resign. (Video: Washington Post)

“I try to follow the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve,” McCarthy told reporters on Jan. 11. “If there is a concern and he has to go through the Ethics (Committee), let him go through it.”

Santos said he will remain in office, but maintaining that posture for two years of his term could be tenuous.

He is under investigation by federal prosecutors who are looking into his finances and whether he broke any laws while running for office. And Brazilian authorities have announced they are reviving a 2008 case involving Santos and a stolen checkbook. Officers initially suspended the case after they were unable to locate Santos, but said they would reinstate the fraud charges against Santos and seek a “formal response” from the New York congressman.

“We’re in this vulnerable position of being represented by a fraud and a crook, and that really means we’re not represented at all,” said Kim Keiserman, 51, a registered Democrat and member of Concerned Citizens of NY-03. an outcast on both sides of the aisle, so there’s just no scenario where he could be an effective legislator or, you know, a real voice for our district.”

Several people who told The Post they voted for Santos said they regretted their decision or expressed anger at Santos for fabricating parts of his personal and professional history.

“I am completely outraged by the whole thing, that someone would lie on their CV to this extent and then call it embellishment. I think it’s a complete outrage,” said Anthony Raimondi, a 62-year-old resident of Manhasset.

Asked if he would vote for Santos again, Raimondi replied “Definitely not.”

Back at the American Legion basement meeting, former Representative John LeBoutillier (RN. Y), who broke party lines by endorsing Santos’ Democratic opponent, compared Santos to former President Donald Trump, calling them “two peas in a pod”.

“These guys lie about anything,” he said. “Sad to say, this is what we as a party have become.”

Some in the group asked LeBoutillier why Republicans in Congress had not immediately voted to remove Santos from office.

His response was simple: “Kevin McCarthy is so far unwilling to expel him.”

After the meeting ended, people remained in the room, some saying they now understood better the stories about Santos and the ins and outs of Congress. Others remained adamant that the national political implications of removing Santos from office would do more harm than good.

“My heart says yes [Santos should be removed or resign]but my brain says [McCarthy] they can’t because they need the seat,” said Albertson resident Howard Abbonondelo. “But I’m not going to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner, that’s for sure.”

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