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Republican elected to Congress admits lying about Jewish ties, family fleeing Nazis

“I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish,’” says New York's George Santos.

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). Credit: George Santos for Congress website.
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). Credit: George Santos for Congress website.

Republican George Santos, who in November was elected to represent New York’s third congressional district, admitted on Monday to lying on the campaign trail, including falsely claiming that his mother is Jewish and his grandparents fled the Nazis.

In an interview with The New York Post, Santos said that he “never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”

On his campaign website, Santos had claimed his maternal grandparents were refugees who fled the Nazis to Brazil. He also spoke of his mother’s “Jewish background beliefs.”

“I am not a criminal,” Santos said during the interview. “This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”

In a subsequent interview with the City & State outlet, Santos added, “It just strikes me as so odd that people are rushing to disinherit me from being Jewish or for even allowing [me] to care for Israel and Judaism in a time and era where antisemitism is at an all-time rise.”

He continued to recount a story in which, after the controversy broke, he had received a message from a friend saying, “George, I don’t care what they say, you’re still a M-O-T” (Member of the Tribe).

Santos also confessed he had “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, a misunderstanding he said had been caused by a “poor choice of words.”

He also admitted to never graduating from any college, despite previously claiming to have received a degree from Baruch in 2010.

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