None of what George Santos has said can be explained away as mere embellishment. This is a spiraling web of lies.
In this Nov. 5, 2022, file photo, Republican George Santos, right, talks to a voter while campaigning outside a Stop and Shop store in Glen Cove, New York. Credit: Mary Altaffer / AP

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We’ve said it before: Lies aren’t always easy to prove. Sometimes, people just don’t have their facts straight. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are lying — they might just be wrong.

Other times, the lie is so egregious, so repeated, so clearly willful, that there can be little doubt. That brings us to U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos, a Republican from New York who has been caught lying about pretty much everything.

Santos told voters that he worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. That’s not true. He said he attended Baruch College in New York. That’s not true. He claimed to be Jewish. That’s not true. The list goes on and on.

Of the various ways that Santos has fabricated his background and deceived Long Island voters, there may be no more clear-cut or egregious example than his deception about his religion.

He told the New York Post last Monday he had “never claimed to be Jewish” but instead said he is “Jew-ish.” This level of ridiculousness would be a stretch even in fiction, yet somehow it is the reality of an actual incoming member of Congress. Even as he tries to explain himself, Santos continues to lie. A group that supports Jewish Republicans made clear in a statement last week that Santos did in fact represent himself as Jewish.

“In public comments and to us personally he previously claimed to be Jewish,” Republican Jewish Coalition CEO Matt Brooks said in the Dec. 27 statement. “He deceived us and misrepresented his heritage,” the group said.

Despite Santos’ poor efforts to deflect, none of this can be explained away as mere embellishment. This is a spiraling web of lies. And it should be disqualifying, even in a political realm that is no stranger to falsehoods.

Tulsi Gabbard, a former U.S. representative from Hawaii who recently left the Democratic Party, interviewed Santos last week while filling in for Tucker Carlson on Fox News. And he continued to try to sidestep responsibility, she asked him the obvious but important question: “My question is, do you have no shame?”

It is clear that Santos has none. If he had any shred of integrity, he would announce his resignation before being seated Tuesday.

He is not the only shameless one in this equation, however.

Incoming House Republican leadership has been awfully quiet about the Santos revelations, despite top officials being awfully supportive of his candidacy. It’s no secret that potential House Speaker Kevin McCarthy needs every vote he can get in order to secure that role, and with Santos having already said that he will vote for McCarthy, there is no great mystery behind the silence.

That may explain the reluctance to call out Santos and his lies, but it doesn’t excuse it.

So we’ll extend Gabbard’s question to Republican House leaders as they continue to sidestep the Santos issue: Do they have no shame?

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given that we wrote last year about McCarthy’s own difficulty with the truth. But it remains a problem that lying apparently became an excused, if not fundamental, part of the Republican Party under Donald Trump. Some New York Republicans have offered stronger statements against Santos, but if national Republican leaders want to move on from Trump’s legacy of falsehoods, the way they are handling the Santos scandal so far is not helping.

Republican Asa Hutchinson, a former U.S. representative and soon-to-be former governor of Arkansas, rightly called Santos’ behavior “unacceptable” and said in a Sunday interview with ABC News that the House Ethics Committee should “deal with this.”

“It breaches the trust between the electorate and their elected official,” Hutchinson said. “We have to have more integrity in our political environment, in our elected leaders.”

We’d like to think that Hutchinson’s perspective will eventually win out, even if the Santos rebuke takes two years and comes from voters.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...