The congressman-elect confirmed The New York Times’s findings that he had not graduated from college or worked at two major Wall Street companies, as he had claimed.
Representative-elect George Santos admitted on Monday to misrepresenting his professional experience and educational history to voters, but said it would not deter him from taking office in January.
Mr. Santos, a New York Republican who was elected in November to represent parts of northern Long Island and northeast Queens, confirmed some of the key findings of a New York Times investigation into his background, but sought to minimize the falsehoods in his first remarks since The Times published its findings last week.
“My sins here are embellishing my résumé,” Mr. Santos told The New York Post in one of two interviews he granted on Monday to conservative-owned media outlets.
“I am not a criminal,” Mr. Santos said, adding that he would still be an effective legislator. In a separate interview with WABC-AM radio, he said he still intended to be sworn in at the start of the next Congress.
The admissions by Mr. Santos served as a capstone to one of the more astonishing examples of an incoming congressman falsifying key biographical elements of his background — with Mr. Santos maintaining the falsehoods through two consecutive bids for Congress.
Yet even as Mr. Santos, whose victory helped Republicans secure a narrow majority in the next House of Representatives, admitted to some fabrication, his actions will still not prevent him, in all likelihood, from being seated in Congress.
Democrats — including the outgoing House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the next House Democratic leader, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York — have accused Mr. Santos of being unfit to serve in Congress. Top House Republican leaders, including Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, have largely remained silent.
The Aftermath of the 2022 Midterm Elections
The House can only prevent candidates from taking office if they violate the Constitution’s age, citizenship and state residency requirements. Once he has been seated, however, Mr. Santos could face ethics investigations, legal experts have said.
Mr. Santos, through representatives, has declined multiple requests to speak with The Times. His interviews did not fully address the scope of The Times’s reporting, which also included omissions on his financial disclosure forms and a charity he claimed to have founded and registered with the I.R.S.
He also firmly rejected having been charged criminally anywhere in the world, but did not appear to explain the existence of records identifying him as being charged with check fraud in Brazil.
Over the course of his campaigns, Mr. Santos claimed to have graduated from Baruch College in 2010 before working at Citigroup and, eventually, Goldman Sachs. A biography on the National Republican Congressional Committee website said he had attended both Baruch and New York University and received degrees in finance and economics.
But the colleges and companies could not locate records to verify his claims when contacted by The Times.
In Monday’s interview, Mr. Santos admitted to The Post that he had not graduated “from any institution of higher learning.” He also admitted that he never worked directly for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, blaming a “poor choice of words” for creating the impression that he had.
Past statements of Mr. Santos are relatively clear however: An archived version of Mr. Santos’s former campaign website preserved by the Wayback Machine says that he “began working at Citigroup as an associate and quickly advanced to become an associate asset manager in the real asset division of the firm.”
Instead, he told The Post, he dealt with both firms through his work at another company, LinkBridge Investors, which connects investors with potential clients.
Mr. Santos told The Post that LinkBridge had “limited partnerships” with the two Wall Street companies.
The Times was able to confirm Mr. Santos’s employment at LinkBridge. But in a version of his campaign biography posted as recently as April, Mr. Santos suggested that he had started his career on Wall Street at Citigroup and that he was at Goldman Sachs briefly before his time at LinkBridge.
A spokeswoman for Citigroup declined to comment. Representatives for Goldman Sachs and LinkBridge did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
Mr. Santos has not fully accounted for his employment during the years that he had claimed, until recently, that he was advancing on Wall Street. In his interview with WABC radio, he confirmed reporting by The Times that he had worked at a call center in Queens in late 2011 and early 2012.
The WABC interview itself was something of a political sideshow curiosity. Mr. Santos was interviewed by John Catsimatidis, a supermarket magnate and a big Republican donor, and Anthony Weiner, the former Democratic congressman who resigned in disgrace in 2011.
Mr. Weiner asked Mr. Santos about his claim, made in an interview last month shortly after his election, that a company he had worked for “lost four employees” at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016. The Times reviewed news coverage and obituaries and found no evidence that could support the claim.
On Monday, Mr. Santos told WABC that those four people were not yet employees but instead were in the process of being hired.
“We did lose four people that were going to be coming to work for the company that I was starting up in Orlando,” he said.
Mr. Santos did not name the company or provide additional information to support his statement. Public records show Mr. Santos was living in the Orlando area at the time of the shooting and that he was registered to vote there during the 2016 election.