GOP Rep. George Santos, God’s gift to Democrats, is back in the news, and whenever that happens it’s sad tidings for Republicans. After all, Republicans have carefully calibrated their deceptions to make them plausible—and palatable—to some of our least discerning and gullible citizens (i.e., Republican voters who don’t own oil companies). But Santos’ lies have been so phantasmagorical and brazen, they threaten to make the party look nearly as silly as it is deceitful.
So it’s interesting to discover that Republican pooh-bahs knew all about Santos’ shady past and history of fabulist fabrications—even as he was running for office—and did nothing to keep this creaking kompromat dessert cart out of the highest echelons of the U.S. government.
Back in January, The New York Times reported that early in Santos’ campaign, a “vulnerability” report was created, unknown bunches of Republicans saw it, and it was very, very bad.
Eight months later, CBS News became the first to get its paws on the internal report—commissioned by Santos’ own campaign in 2021—that unearthed several of the scandals that would later become public knowledge, and many Republicans, including fellow New York Rep. and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, were keenly aware of both the report and the candidate’s glaring vulnerabilities.
RELATED STORY: New report details George Santos' lifetime of lies
Portions of the report, published here for the first time, show that long before Santos' election, questions had surfaced about his marriage, his family's claimed link to the Holocaust, and his alleged ties to “companies that have been accused of fraud and scamming customers.”
The so-called vulnerability report has emerged as Santos prepares to go to court to fight federal fraud charges. Such reports are often a standard step in the early stages of a campaign, when candidates are preparing for potential attacks from opponents. According to campaign finance records, on Dec. 2, 2021, the Santos campaign paid more than $16,600 to Capital Research Group, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based firm whose services include vulnerability reports.
CBS News notes that when the report was released, some of Santos’ aides found it “too much to stomach” and advised Santos to quit the race. When he refused, they resigned. In addition, the report exposed several shady goings-on that would have likely been regarded as red flags or dealbreakers by a then-clueless public.
Among the revelations detailed in the four pages (out of 100) that CBS News shared on Friday:
- Santos claimed that he’d studied at both NYU and the City University of New York’s Baruch College, but the report determined “there was no record of Santos earning any degree from either university.”
- The report cited the congressman’s role as an executive with Harbor City Capital, noting that the SEC had accused the company of running a Ponzi scheme.
- The report also questioned the circumstances of Santos’ marriage to a woman named Uadla Vieira, noting that “she may not have been a green card holder nor legal to work in the United States around the time of her marriage to Santos.” Santos is openly gay, and the report stated that “[w]hile married to Uadla Viera, Santos appears to have dated and lived with a man named Pedro Vilarva, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil.”
- The researchers unearthed now-widely reported inconsistencies about Santos’ claimed ancestry. On more than one occasion, Santos referred to his grandparents as Holocaust survivors, but Santos is not Jewish (or” Jew-ish,” whatever that means) and his grandparents were born in Brazil.
- The report noted that Santos’ boasts about being a successful financial adviser didn’t stand up to scrutiny. “Santos says his professional experience is working in finance and helping wealth grow, but his personal financial disclosure filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives shows no personal investments or assets,” the report stated.
That last bullet point is relevant to some of the current criminal charges Santos faces. Prosecutors claim that Santos tried to “mislead the House of Representatives and the public about his financial condition” in campaign disclosures he made during 2020 and 2022. In addition, he’s been accused of obtaining unemployment benefits he wasn’t entitled to and using campaign funds to cover personal debts and buy high-end clothing. (On Tuesday, prosecutors submitted a filing asking for a delay in an upcoming status conference in the criminal case. They are reportedly discussing “possible paths forward” with Santos’ lawyers.)
RELATED STORY: A former fundraiser for Rep. George Santos has been charged with wire fraud and identity theft
Did I mention he’s not allowed to drive in Florida? He and Donald Trump have something in common beyond criminal indictments and right-wing politics!
Back in January, The Times reported that “a small circle of well-connected Republican campaign professionals” saw the report. Mais non! Top-level GOP muckety-mucks were keenly aware of Santos’ sketchy past, even as they pushed for his election.
The report's conclusions ultimately circulated among campaign strategists for top House Republicans and led the Congressional Leadership Fund, the primary super PAC dedicated to electing House Republicans, to withhold its support of Santos, according to three sources familiar with the matter. A top House Republican, Elise Stefanik, campaigned with Santos well after the report was compiled.
When contacted, Stefanik’s office declined to give a statement to CBS News about the congresswoman’s continued involvement with Santos’ campaign.
Sadly, Santos is such a cornucopia of barmy bullshit that even this exhaustive background check failed to catch everything. (And, to be fair, Democratic oppo research was clearly found wanting as well. As was the media.)
The vulnerability report failed to uncover Santos’ 2010 confession to a Brazilian check fraud charge—and his subsequent failure to appear in court in connection with the alleged incident. He was also later accused of passing bad checks to Amish dog breeders, but got the case dismissed after claiming his checkbook was stolen. And earlier this year, a disabled veteran accused Santos of stealing thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe campaign that had been set up to save the life of his service dog.
In other words, he’s the perfect Republican candidate.
In fact, with credentials like this, Santos would make the perfect Republican president. Just give it another 10 years or so.
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