You know who won’t be lighting the third candle on the menorah tonight? Scandal-ridden Representative-elect George Santos, because it appears he’s not Jewish—despite repeated claims to the contrary.
On his campaign website, Santos states that his grandparents were Jews who fled persecution twice, first in Ukraine and then again in Belgium as the Nazis rose to power. They settled in Brazil, where his mother, Fatima (a common name among Portuguese-speaking Catholic populations) Devolder, was born.
But the Jewish news outlet the Forward has now accused Santos of lying about that. The Forward said that Santos’s maternal grandparents were born in Brazil, well before the Nazis came to power in Europe, citing genealogy websites, a 1958 local newspaper article, and church records from 1928. (Santos has said that his father was Catholic and his mother was Jewish.)
Neither of his maternal grandparents have Brazilian immigration cards from the 1930s or 1940s, and their names do not appear in databases of European Jewish refugees.
The Forward also spoke to a man who says he is a distant Dutch cousin of Santos. The cousin had set up a family tree on one of the genealogy websites and said their family has neither Jewish nor Ukrainian roots.
Santos’s mother, who died in 2016, made no reference to Judaism on her Facebook page but regularly shared Catholic-themed posts and images of Jesus.
The Republican Jewish Coalition said it had reached out to Santos about the allegations and demanded a public explanation.
House Republicans have remained silent on the accusations Santos lied about his background, likely because they will need every vote they can get when they take control of the chamber by just a few seats.
Democrats have condemned him but stopped short of demanding he resign. It is not yet known if the House Ethics Committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics will investigate him. Fellow New York Representative-elect Daniel Goldman called Wednesday for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York and the FBI to investigate Santos.
The only thing Santos definitely hasn’t made up seems to be his declaration of victory after the midterms. As details about his background continue to emerge, his win is growing even more humiliating for the New York Democratic Party, which suffered major losses in November and apparently failed to do a basic background check on Santos.