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Can Santos Survive the Lies?

Can Santos Survive the Lies?

For a couple of days, Congressman-elect George Santos was the subject of a lot of notoriety.  The good kind.  He was a gay Republican who took a New York Long Island congressional seat – one of three who flipped seats in that very blue region.  They represented most of the margin by which the GOP took control of the House.  Santos was a rising star in the Republican Party – or so they thought at the time.

What we see is not a rising star, however.  It appears to be a flaming (no pun intended) meteor falling from the political firmament.  His fame brought attention to his resume.  He had fibbed.  Oh, not an exaggeration here and there, but bald-faced lies here AND there.  

Virtually everything in his published biography was untrue.  He did not attend college.  He did not work for Goldman Sachs.  He was not Jewish – or even “Jew-ish,” as he later explained. His family did not escape the Holocaust. The person on paper was a fictional character. The lies were so deep and so extensive that it would be fair to question whether he was even gay.

He certainly was elected under false pretenses – but ironically, virtually all the lies were NOT reasons that generally influence votes.  He was elected for what he said on the campaign trail in terms of issues. Voters decided to vote for Santos because of his stand on inflation, immigration, crime, and other Republican issues.  Voters do not generally vote on personal resumes – the thing you see on the front page of campaign brochures along with photos of the family.

In my long career as a political consultant, I have always advised clients put the personal biography stuff on the back of the brochure.  For the most part, voters do not care about what college a candidate went to … or where they worked … or what hobbies they have.   My mantra was “put the issues up front.”

On the other hand, voters do not like to be lied to … period.  And especially on such a grand scale.  We can never know if Santos could have been elected by being honest – the poor boy making good is a great personal history.

Santos’ fate is still uncertain.  There are calls for his resignation – even among some Republicans.  Democrats are calling for all sorts of investigations – by prosecutors and by the House.  It would seem that a censure is possible — but being booted from the House is unlikely.   That extreme punishment is generally reserved for members who commit serious crimes.

To the best of my recollection the last House member to be denied his seat was Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of New York.  In 1967 he was barred from taking his seat for a series of misconducts – taking lady friends on congressional junkets … not paying a slander judgement … and for hanging out in Florida instead of in Washington during sessions.   The voters of Harlem put him back in Congress in the next election.

Santos may be in more trouble than he might have been because of the way he has handled the matter.  He has been dismissing the criticism as unjustified.  Yes, he made up his personal history, but it is no big deal.  That was exactly the wrong way to address the matter.

He should have admitted to his sin with an abject apology.  Talk about how he has always felt inferior because of his minority background and sexual orientation.  How he had low self-esteem and indulged in self-hate.  That he did not create the phony Ron Santos for the campaign, but it was part of his weakness since childhood.  (I am speculating, but I do think that may be the explanation.  There always is one.)

He then should have made an abject apology to the voters – and committed to setting himself on a path of honesty in the future.  He should have announced that he was entering treatment to specifically address his problem.  Americans are very forgiving.  

House Speaker McCarthy could have taken a “let’s give him a chance” approach – instead of seeming to hold off criticism or punitive action because he needed the vote.  It is certainly arguable that McCarthy’s response would have been different if he had a 20 to 30 seat margin.

Members of Congress have survived worse.  Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank survived having his male lover running a prostitution operation out of the Congressman’s apartment – and Massachusetts  Congressman Gerry Studds survived statutory rape when he engaged in sex with an underage male page.  Both went on to become highly “respected” members of the Democrat House Caucus.

Unfortunately for Santos, he chose the dismissive route over a sincere mea culpa.  Rather than seek public sympathy and forgiveness, he projected the opposite – diminishing his transgression … appearing arrogant … and making himself even more unpopular.

In one sense, there is no excuse for the gross misrepresentations he advanced, but there can be a reason – one that could have been more acceptable to the voters.  Is it too late to come clean and beg forgiveness?  Never too late – but it will be a lot harder now.  And so far, he does not seem to be inclined to do so.

Democrats will be chewing on the Santos issue for some time – knowing that their allies in the news media will keep the controversy on the front burner as part of their ongoing anti-Republican narratives.  As far as the outcome for Santos, we will have to wait and see.  Unless he is motivated to resign, he is most likely to hold his congressional seat until the next election.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Frank stetson

    Think you may have missed one interesting point in this. If Santos is removed from office, the vacated seat would be refilled by the governor of New York.

    I think unless there is a back door deal to get a Republican to backfill the seat, this man is not leaving Congress. And I don’t think Kevin McCarthy is up to dealing with the governor of New York behind the barn.

    And thus endith of the story.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … I am not sure that is true. As I recall, it may require a special election.

  2. Wes kussmaul

    As a real independent, with very few political allegiances left or right, it’s apparent to me that politicians of all stripes tend to put a low value on facts and truth. It’s always been that way. But these days Republicans seem to have just moved the bar to the lowest it has ever been.

  3. Nita

    He needs to be in line behind all the others that have lied much more than he.
    The first to go if this be the red line is Pres Joe Biden, 2nd Adam Schiff, he lies
    every time he opens his mouth. I could go on and on but why. We know lying is
    not the RED LINE . Oh I forgot, he is a Republican and the others are Democrats.
    Guess that is the red line.

  4. Darren

    The funny thing is if he ran and won as a Democrat, this would not be a story.
    In fact he would just fit right in and not only be applauded, but gain in status.
    Ah, what a government!

    • Theodore

      Ha ha!!! Too true.

    • larry Horist

      Darren … You must be thinking of Congressman Gerry Studds who has sex with an underage male page and continued in Congress to the high praise of his Democrat colleagues. Or maybe Democrat Congressman Barney Frank, who gay lover was running a prostitution ring out of the Congressman’s apartment. He, too, went on to high praise of the Democrats. Oh … and then there was Senator Ted Kennedy, who caused the death of a young lady and ran from the scene … was involved in drunken scandals … and was on scene then his nephew was accused of rape. They are all from Massachusetts ????????? Is it something in the water?

      • frank stetson

        They’re from Ass I Choose Its. Sorry, very unwoke of me, but Larry started it :>)

        • Ugene

          Unwoke is patriotic

    • Mike

      How ridiculous an allegation. Larry forgot to mention the “wide stance” legislator from Montana in his rush to find Democrats that were in questionable situations. Some of his claims were never upheld. Sort of like the Pizza Gate program or the pillow guy and his quest for publicity.

      • larry Horist

        Mike … You need to up your reading comprehension, My point is that Democrat legislators are not punished for their transgressions — not that Republicans do not transgress. The “wide stance” Republican legislator was forced out of Congress — as was the Congressman who engaged with an underage female page — as was the gay Republican who engaged in suggestive emails with an underage page. My allegation is not only NOT ridiculous, it is spot on.

        • frank stetson

          Yeah, but they nailed Jesus so why not Santos?

          And how about Hitler, he lied, we let him get away with it, and then we didn’t.

          (you just knew Hitler had to hit sometime, right)

          And what about………

          • Fred

            Stop badmouthing Hitler. He’s the inspiration for the Democratic Party

          • Frank stetson

            Good one Fred but do you really want the list of Republican Hitler wannabees, supporters, and even the guy sporting the stache?

            It will not end well for you my friend. I got plenty of real examples. Don’t fuck with sarcasm. It can bite back 😁

  5. Tom

    I think your mantra is very good. Issues up front, bio in the back! I agree! I think voters would have elected him without all of the lies. Yes the same thing happened in Philly where a congressman went to jail only to be re-elected when he got out. Voters care more about issues than sheepskins. They want to know you can feel their frustrations and pain, and speak for them. I agree that there is always an explanation for a person’s behavior, its just that often they do not want to give the truthful explanation. Yes I agree that McCarthy is a political player, most of them are this way. Votes trump truth (no pun intended). Yes I agree that Democrats in general, because of liberal bias are more prone to accepting behaviors such as Santos. Dismissiveness is never a good approach, it only angers people more. As a government contractor, one of the things we learned is that with the Federal Government, it is easier to ask forgiveness for not conforming to a design spec than it is to follow the design spec. Not sure that this will be the case with Santos but it is heading that direction and only being blocked by his lack of humility and his pride. Not a good combination in my view! I do think it is right for the Democrats to keep the issue on the front burner, but!!!! But they have had many similar issues. Buyer beware!!

    Now my question for you Larry is this: You have bashed Kinzinger, sometimes mercilessly, as have many of your post respondents, except our beloved Frank. I am not criticizing this. Just my perceived fact. I thought Kinzinger to be honest and at least somewhat moral who genuinely was against what Trump did, which was his self proclaimed reason for being on the Select Committee that you loath. So in light of the fact that Kinzinger has begun a petition to recall Santos (something you did not mention which currently has at least 48,000 signatures and needs 210,000 for a recall election), how do you feel about Kinzinger now, on this matter? Do you see him as a turncoat just covertly taking a stand for the Dems for his own gain, or do you see him in the light of a moral man who loves his country and wants to do what is right?

    • larry Horist

      Tom … It should be quite clear that I offer no defense for Santos lies. As I said … voters do not care about personal bios but they do care about lying about them. I do not think Santos will be tossed out of Congress for the lies. It will be up him to resign … or the voters to not re-elect him. However, if some of these money issues — campaign financing or Ponzi schemes — rise to criminality, then I think he could be ousted. In the mean time, I do not believe it is proper to deny him committee seats or participating in the affairs of Congress. He still has people who have a right to representation.

      Re Kinzinger. I have said that I had no issue with his vote to impeach in terms of casting him out of the good graces of the GOP. I felt the same about Cheney. I would have accepted that as a vote of conscience, and let it go at that. I have previously suggested that tossing her out of leadership may have been another McCarthy mistake. BUT … once both Kinzinger and Cheney allowed themselves to be used by Pelosi as cudgels against the entire GOP. they crossed the line. They both mounted a broad-brush attack on the Republican Party — picking up the Democrats scripts. Kinzinger has since become the darling of the left-wing networks where he spews his anti-GOP rhetoric. In my opinion that disqualified him from claiming any loyalty to the GOP or the more conservative positions of the GOP. Both Kinzinger and Cheney went over to the dark side in terms of conservative values. Cheney only campaigned for Democrats — and their left-wing agenda. They have both been working against Republican conservative values since joining the Select Committee. As far as Kinzinger’s starting a drive to recall Santos, I see it as a desperate effort to remain in the public eye. That is an issue that is out of Kinzinger’s wheelhouse — so why did he gratuitously take it up. I say for the publicity. In Kinzinger and Cheney, I see to bitter people trying to take the high ground — with only Democrats and left-wing media claiming it for them. That says a lot.

      • Frank stetson


        Your point that Democrats don’t get punished for it is expertly backed up with a couple of really fine examples.

        Must be statistically valid then.

        Why, I’ll see your examples and raise you two Republican representatives and a senator….which must mean that Republicans don’t get punished either.

        Gotta love statistics he said sarcastically.

        You have to know that a few examples does not create a truth for all.

      • Tom

        Yes I agree with you that Santos should go but probably won’t. And it is right for him to represent the folks in his distrct, they deserve representation. My hope is that the financial issues will seal the deal on him leaving. Good point on the publicity angle with Kinzinger starting the petition to recall. I did not think about that angle.

        • Frank stetsoj

          Come on, this guy ain’t serving nothing but himself. You just have too see that. Nobody deserves this guy.

          Fyi: glad to see ya today. Thought maybe carolina covid got you. Pretty dicey down there.

          • larry Horist

            Frank Stetson … You are again “No Facts’ Stetson. Of course, you have supported your contentions with a single news article or single source. Hardly statistically valid by your own measure. You are what you criticize. BUSTED for lack of supporting evidence. You “prove it” mantra shows me a man with limited common knowledge. If I were to predict the sun would appear on the horizon in the morning, I would be awaiting your request to prove it. Your kneejerk retort does not enhance the dialogue.

          • larry Horist

            Frank Stetson … You say the dumbest crap. No matter his issues, Santos is the only congressional representative the people of his District have. They empowered him to take care of constituent needs and to vote the way he promised in the campaign, You would disenfranchise all those voters. Until or if Santos is removed from Congress, he needs to be a participant for the folks of that District. You are typical of a liberal Democrat — with little concern about how a democracy really works. You do not negate the vote of the people for your own political reasons.

          • Frank stetson

            Wow, the cocept of sarcasm is totally lost on the perennially thin skinned.

            BUSTED denied.

            And I would find the list, but it should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer that a lot of Republican bigwigs get off just like Democrats, just like Independents. Think real hard about the common trait that here that rises above our petty partisanship. I think Epstein himself had a huge book of them from all three parties.

            But tell you what, for reparation, we can let Pena go. He’s just a typical Trumper practicing The Big Liecc

          • Frank stetson

            Wow, you win. That was actually dumber crap than mine. It defies logic. There’s no Constitutional right to be governed by a fraud. There is nothing in the bill of rights. Use the law, use the rules, reject the sociopath. There’s nothing wrong with that and everything right. You guys are going to overload the DoJ soon.

          • larry Horist

            Frank Stetson … You make dumb comments and hide behind claims of sarcasim … LOL

            You write: “And I would find the list, but it should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer that a lot of Republican bigwigs get off just like Democrats, just like Independents.” And this from Mr. Show-Me-the Fact.” Cannot come up with comparable comparisons …, eh? BUSTED for the claim that you are not BUSTED.. LOL You might as well surrender on this subject and move on to one of your other political spins.

    • Mike

      COMMENTKinzinger is a great target for those who thought Don’s lies were not too bad. It would seem that Santos saw Don’s success as a liar and he realized that he could probably do okay too. Congress had to pass the “Stolen Valor” act because so many political aspirants claimed to have been combat veterans.
      These guys, like Santos have no business being in any office. And, apparently, he hasn’t been. But we all know that McCarthy will do al he can to protect this liar and further the demise of Congress.

      • larry Horist

        Mike … You failed to mention Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, who claimed to have fought in Vietnam when he never set foot in the country. He is still holding office and highly respected by his colleagues. If you have read my commentaries, you know I am tough on those who lie — including Trump and Santos. But also Biden and Elizabeth Warren. My issue is the double-standard. Does that bother you? Or do you only call out Republican transgressions?

        • Ac

          Santos appears to have slipped past the primary’s purpose of vetting. Those seeking a particular office in government where several others are in contention are like anyone applying for a position on business. Winning the position besting others’ resume’ and interview sessions assumes genuineness of facts. Shame on the employer who is hoodwinked. But, the employer has immediate recourse, firing.
          The function of a primary is narrowing the field in a party down to one candidate. When the candidate receives the people’s vote by majority the system does not allow for a fix when it fails
          Why didn’t NY Republican Party leaders thoroughly check out Santo months prior to November.
          Letting the media or others vet information after the fact of his election shows bad form on NY Republican Party’s part.
          The district’s electorate relies on both political parties for accurate timely information. Republicans fumbled the ball on this one. Or did they?
          It’s not how well the game is played, it is all about winning. Ends justifying the means.
          It’s does matter how the railroad is managed even when it does not always run on time. Yet, projection for this Congressional Session has the railroad line managed inefficiently by those empowered to run it. Therefore, we the people had better not expect government being on time while waiting for it at the stations’ on scheduled stops.
          The conductor promised to many others the unscheduled stops demanded where one or two passengers may board. A majority of paying passengers on both sides of the aisle will not be well served.
          Santos will be sand in the government’s gears. Gears that have lost teeth in the 2022 election cycle. In the end it’s to the power disadvantage of us all and not just our political parties power struggle intensified.

          • larry Horist

            Ac … Your bias is showing. You blame only the GOP for not discovering Santos’ lies. You would think that they should have. But equal responsibility is on the Democrats and the media that did not do their job. I have consulted on a lot of congressional races. The first thing a campaign does is “opposition research.” That is a key element in vetting because the position is more likely to find and expose every weakness. The media also has a professional responsibility to look into the background of ALL candidates. We even give them special exemptions from the law to do so. Apparently, one local newspaper questioned Santos’ biography — but no others picked up on the story. that is an egregious malfeasance when you consider that Santos operated in the most top heavy media market in the nation.

            You suggest that voters “rely on both political parties for accurate timely information.” Are you nuts? Neither party, on its own, can ever be trusted for “accurate timely information.” Campaigns are build on one-sided narratives that are most often on accurate. If you really believe your contention, you may be the most gullible voter in America.

    • Fred

      No Frank. It’s the left that is most likely to assault people with different opinions. Just like the nazi police. So bask in your naziism and enjoy it. Until the nazis fuck with me

      • Frank stetson

        Tell that to pena and that guy attacking Gaetz on the floor of congress.