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Even Kevin McCarthy Knows He Doesn’t Have the Votes for House Speaker

McCarthy and his allies are scrambling to get enough votes to confirm him as speaker of the House, reportedly even threatening that Republicans who vote against him will lose committee assignments.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gestures with his hands and speaks at a podium. (He looks distressed.)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The House of Representatives will choose its new speaker Tuesday, and it currently seems that Kevin McCarthy does not have enough votes to win the gavel.

The California Republican has made no secret of his desire to be speaker of the House. But even though he is backed by former President Donald Trump and far-right Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, things don’t look good for him.

McCarthy appeared confident he would win, laughing off the idea that his number two, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, would be selected speaker instead.

But McCarthy and his allies are scrambling to amass all the votes necessary. In a meeting Tuesday morning, Alabama Representative Mike Rogers reportedly threatened to ban anyone who votes against McCarthy from sitting on a committee.

Republicans hold only nine more seats in the House, and McCarthy needs a majority—218 votes—in order to be elected speaker. Five Republicans, the self-dubbed “Never Kevin Five,” have already vowed not to support him. One of the five, Representative Andy Biggs, is challenging McCarthy for speakership. It’s highly unlikely he will win, but he could draw more votes away from McCarthy.

Democrats, who will put forward Hakeem Jeffries, will definitely vote against McCarthy. If neither McCarthy nor Jeffries wins an outright majority, it will trigger a so-called “floor fight”: repeated rounds of votes until someone wins. It would be the first floor fight in 100 years. It’s unclear if the chamber will recess between votes so representatives can attempt to make deals.

Congress cannot move forward until a speaker is elected. The House cannot approve a rules package for the new session or committee leadership. Politico also reported that if the speakership isn’t filled by January 13, committee staffers would have to go without pay.

McCarthy could still pull it off: Only named votes, meaning only ballots that have a name written on them, are counted. If any representatives choose to abstain or only vote “present,” then their votes are no longer included in the overall total, which lowers the final amount needed to win. However, any ballots that choose a write-in candidate—such as Biggs—would count toward the total.

Nancy Pelosi won with only 216 votes in 2021, and her predecessor, John Boehner, also won with 216 in 2015.

If he does win, McCarthy has already promised to unleash a raft of unproductive and even harmful measures, such as an investigation into Hunter Biden, anti-LGBTQ policy, and a cut to aid for Ukraine.

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Yet Another Republican Commits Voter Fraud

An upstate New York elections official becomes the latest in a long line of conservatives to perpetrate the very crime they claim is being done against them.

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Jason T. Schofield, the elections commissioner for Rensselaer County in upstate New York, is set to plead guilty to federal criminal charges in the New Year after being accused of leading a plot to cast votes in at least eight other people’s names without their permission.

According to the Times Union, the notice of Schofield’s change-of-plea hearing was filed on December 13—just hours before the Republican-led Rensselaer County Legislature voted 16–2 to reappoint Schofield to a second term as election commissioner. This, after Schofield had already been facing federal criminal charges since September.

In September, the FBI arrested Schofield on accusations that the county elections commissioner was fraudulently applying for absentee ballots in the names of people who didn’t request ballots or Schofield’s assistance, or didn’t know that Schofield was using their personal information. The indictment alleged that Schofield brought ballots to voters, took possession of some ballots himself, and had voters sign ballot envelopes but not actually vote—enabling him to cast votes in the voters’ names.

Schofield’s plea agreement includes his pledge to cooperate in the federal investigation that is examining the use of county resources and employees to gather absentee ballots.

The election fraudster was appointed to the county elections commission back in April 2018, after resigning from the Troy City School District Board of Education, where the Times Union reports he spent 15 years as a board member and seven years as president.

Other officials are also being targeted by the investigation, including two Rensselaer County employees—one described by insiders as a GOP operative, another an assistant for county Executive Steve McLaughlin, who was indicted last year on campaign finance felony charges. The investigation has also led to the guilty plea of former Republican Troy City Councilwoman Kimberly Ashe-McPheron, for fraudulently submitting absentee ballots in last year’s primary and general elections.

The remarkably ever-widening scale of the upstate investigation follows a wider trend of Republican officials and voters being guilty of the phantasmal voter fraud they so often fearmonger about.

Read more at Times Union.

Why Didn’t the IRS Finish Its Trump Tax Audit?

The release of the former president’s returns raises questions about the agency’s failure to apply the same scrutiny to which other chief executives have been subjected.

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
The exterior of the IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump’s newly released tax returns confirm that the IRS failed to start auditing him until two years into his presidency. One of the larger questions that arises from this disclosure is whether there was a reasonable explanation for why an audit wasn’t carried out in a timely fashion, or whether the former president perverted the functions of government to suit his own needs.

Trump repeatedly (convolutedly, and ridiculously) insisted that he couldn’t release his tax returns because they were under audit. But as it turns out, that wasn’t really the case. The House Ways and Means Committee revealed last week that the IRS actually failed to audit Trump until 2019, despite a program that makes auditing sitting presidents mandatory. Those audits are still not completed.

What’s more, the IRS did not even begin auditing Trump’s tax returns until April 3, coincidentally the same day the committee Chair Richard Neal sent the agency a written request for the records.

In the IRS’s defense, the agency is chronically understaffed. But it might have been trying to stay out of the maelstrom of controversy surrounding Trump’s taxes, noted Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW.

As Bookbinder explained in The Atlantic, though, it is impossible to rule out the possibility that “Trump used the levers of government to shield himself from scrutiny.”

Trump appointed several allies at the IRS over his term. He’s certainly no stranger to using his political powers to protect himself and his cronies. An analysis of his tax returns by the Joint Committee on Taxation appears to indicate Trump used his office to steer federal business to his own companies. He and other government officials would also stay at his hotels while traveling abroad.

The IRS seems to have selectively struggled to carry out its audits of recent presidents; the agency demonstrated itself to be fully capable of conducting thorough annual audits on Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But when it finally got around to Trump, the audit was initially assigned to just one employee—a doubly puzzling choice given the nature of the real estate mogul’s complicated business holdings.

So what really happened? It’s possible that the Senate, which will remain under control of the Democrats, might pursue an investigation. If this inquiry takes as long as the one that only finally got Trump’s tax returns released this week, we could be waiting quite a while for answers. Either way, this is not a good look for Trump—or the IRS.

“The Worst Time of My Life”: A Buffalo Blizzard Hero Speaks Out

A Q&A with Shaquille Jones, the New Yorker who pitched in to save lives as a destructive winter storm ripped through his community.

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Vehicles are seen abandoned in heavy snowfall in downtown Buffalo, New York, on December 26.

As a calamitous blizzard devastated upstate New York, leaving at least 39 dead and thousands without power, government agencies fell short, leaving citizens to largely fend for themselves and each other. One of these citizens was Shaquille Jones: Days after being stuck in the snow himself for 18 hours—on the cusp of fatal frostbite—he chose to do his part helping others in his community by delivering supplies, serving as an ersatz taxi driver, and wielding his jumper cables on the behalf of hundreds of his neighbors. He even helped save a snowed-in couple and their 1-year-old baby, who was in dire need of a ventilator. At one point during his rounds, someone with authority finally arrived on the scene—to tow away the truck he had borrowed for his mission. (Jones was forced to pay out of pocket to get it back).

I was able to reach Jones by phone on Friday morning; he took me through what he saw as he operated in what amounted to a winter-weather war zone—scattered bodies, abandoned and snowed-in vehicles, and little institutional help to find anywhere.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Take us through your past week.

My mom, sister, and two nieces were getting food for the storm, and they got stuck. I borrowed a buddy’s truck to come down and get them, and then we got stuck. I called the police maybe after two hours. They said they were sending someone to help us. At this time, the snow was—you couldn’t be out there; it was ridiculous, you couldn’t see anything, you couldn’t do anything. So we sat there for about another two hours. So we’re four hours in, and I called again; they’re like, “We’re sending someone, we’re sending someone,” and nobody came. So, seven hours rolls around: “We’re sending someone”; 10 hours roll around: “We’re sending someone”; 15 hours roll around: “We’re sending someone.” 

Finally, here’s 18 hours. We’re still sitting there, and the snow is covering the doors, so we can’t get out and it was almost going to cover the windows. At this moment, we had to make a decision: We’re gonna either sit here and we’re gonna die in this car—because we’re freezing—or we’re gonna get out and try to run for it. We’re either going to sit there and die, or die trying to get to help. My sister has a broken leg, she was on crutches. My niece, for some reason, had no coat on. So at this moment, we get out of the car, it’s about four o’clock in the morning. The snow was still coming down, it was a whiteout; you can’t see anything. It was really bad. We had to get out the window, slide down the snow, and we walked for 20 minutes to the hospital in minus 20 degree weather with 80 mph wind.

The doctor said if we were out there at least one more minute, I would have died because my blood flow had stopped because it was so cold. We had frostbite, we had to get wrapped, it was horrible.

We stayed in that hospital for a day and a half, two days. I got a buddy to finally come pick me up, he got me home to my family on Christmas Day about maybe five or six in the morning. After my kids were done opening their gifts, I decided to go back out. I haven’t seen them for days after that. I’ve been out rescuing people that needed to be rushed to the hospital because the police said they are not coming.

So I’ve rescued hundreds of people, saving them, getting them to help, seeing people 50 years old, 90 years old in the house for hours with no heat, frostbitten; a baby that I saved was on a ventilator that had no electricity; they were hand-pumping their baby to have them breathe. That was by far the worst thing I’ve ever had to do in my life: pump a baby while walking through snow to try to get them to some type of electricity. We opened up a building for heat and food and baby clothing. I have not taken money from anyone. I done it all for free. They were asking me if I could put up my cash app for donations for food, so I did do that and [went] to the supermarket and got a bunch of food, diapers, you know, any supplies that can help out. We have been delivering ever since. 

I went back up to the truck that I borrowed. And they just took it, right before I pulled up. I had to pay $350 to get the truck back. The truck was damaged, I have to pay for out of pocket. It was the worst week of my life.

Wow. And that tow fee—here you are, trying to help the community, and you come back to that.

Yeah, the thing about that is I don’t believe that they care. The way New York State went about even ticketing people with the driving ban and stuff like that is beyond me. How could you do this to people after a natural disaster? Why would you? I understand you have to get paid, I understand you’re running a company. But come on, I mean 300-some odd dollars. That’s insane.

I understand others began to help you as well, right? Who were they, and how did they get involved? What have you been doing together?

Well, first of all, one of them was a stranger I’ve never met in my life. He came down to Buffalo inside the storm the same day I got stuck and got into the hospital, he came down to try and rescue me. And this is a guy that I have never met in my entire life. He heard that I was stuck, and he said, “Man, I’m going to get this guy no matter what.” This guy didn’t have a dime in his pocket, and I didn’t know this. If he would have told me this, I would have told him not to come, but this guy made an effort when nobody else made an effort. I’m just so grateful for him. His name is Tayron Knight from Niagara Falls. He’s been with me ever since. A guy whose nickname is JC, that’s my wife’s cousin. A Buffalo Police officer that came out after we got to the baby—he’s been going ever since. And it was about four or five of us. Pharoah Page from Buffalo, New York, who opened up his skating rink for heat, and groceries, and food for the people to come. So, it is good people that I had involved with me—thank God, because at first I was alone, I was by myself, but when we rescued that baby and people saw that, they started wanting to get more involved.

So you’ve been delivering and purchasing supplies, driving people around. What other things have you guys been doing?

Yep, so we’ve been purchasing supplies, getting people to hospitals, jumping cars. We still are out here; my phone is like a 911 hotline. And I hope people know that anytime that they call me, I will be there. 

But we dealt with so much racism and [inaction]. My buddy went into the gas station, and he asked to use the bathroom, and the guy told him, “Not for your kind.” It really was a bad situation—he told me after we left, and that really hurt me to the core. I stopped, went to get a guy out of his house. It was a bigger guy. And the National Guard was standing there, like maybe a block up. I said, “Man, I really could use your guys’ help, please, you know help me get this guy out of his house and take him to the hospital, I can put him in the back of my truck to take him to the hospital.”  This guy told me, “Unfortunately we’re not EMS.” 

I said, “Well, you don’t have to be EMS. I just need a couple of hands please.” This guy told me unfortunately, he had to get his partner some lunch, so he won’t be able to assist. The government, man, I don’t know what’s going on with the New York state government, I feel as though they did leave us behind, they left a lot of people in trouble and stranded. I don’t understand, all this stuff should have been more prepared. It’s really a shame. And I’m really going through it—I’m having flashbacks and stuff, I’ve seen so many people dead in the snow, in their car, not alert. It was a mess. I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life.

Tell me more about that, the things that have been frustrating you. 

It’s just trauma. Seeing people throwing up blood and you got to take them to the hospital; 70-year-old ladies sitting in their cars for hours because they don’t have any heat, and the police are not coming. You can’t call for help. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people without electricity. It was a nightmare. You couldn’t call anyone, so I made myself available for them to call. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I did that. 

But I would do it all over again—no matter the trauma that I’ve seen … people laying dead in the snow and walking past their bodies, tapping on the window and they’re dead and locked inside the car. It was rough, so now I’m dealing with trying to mentally prepare myself to stay on the right track; you know, stay focused.

How do you think things could have gone better? Where did things go wrong?

I really think the government dropped the ball on getting people here fast enough for the storm. I understand because of the driving ban, but you have [hundreds of thousands] of people in Buffalo that needed food who couldn’t get to it right away. Just because people make mistakes doesn’t mean you don’t go rescue them. You know officers took an oath … all these people that get paid from tax dollars … there was no one. They say we are not coming. The firefighters were out helping—I’m not sure about the police. I really didn’t see any police out. It was just—they wasn’t prepared. And it left people dying.

You’ve mentioned different ways this has impacted your mental well-being—could you talk a bit more about that, if you’re comfortable? 

Yeah, it’s just basically having flashbacks of what’s been going on this past week. It was like back-to-back-to-back-to-back issues with people not breathing, and babies, and it was just traumatizing. I can’t believe that I had to literally pump a baby—if I [had done] it the wrong way the baby could die. When I first started, [the mother] was like, “You have to pump it like this, on time, or you know the baby will cough and he will lose breath.” I messed up one time and it shattered me—I was so broken because I thought that this baby was not gonna make it. 

I’m still having flashbacks from, you know, just seeing the bodies—and bodies are still popping up all over the news. Buffalo, New York, will never, ever, be the same.

Is there anything that has been giving you hope or enlivening you throughout all this chaos and sadness?

I just think about my kids. What if that was my babies—my kids would not have made it, would not have made it in that storm. I barely made it. I’m telling you, my legs were purple, my arms were purple, my hands were purple. It was like something that you see in a movie—when we got to the hospital, everything was frozen: my eyebrows, my hair was ice. I couldn’t barely talk. It was the worst time of my life. And I just—God kept me going. Once I got better, I said, you know what? There’s people out here going through what I just went through. These people need help: Go. My family wasn’t too happy about it. But once I did it, they were like, “Oh, OK, we understand.” There’s nothing else I would have done differently.

Three Quick Takeaways From Donald Trump’s Long-Awaited Tax Returns

One reason he might have been eager to keep these records under wraps is that they don’t exactly paint the picture of a business genius.

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The House Ways and Means Committee released six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns Friday, after a protracted battle by the former president to prevent that from happening. Trump famously refused to release them during the 2016 presidential election; doing so is not a legal requirement but has long been the norm. The Treasury Department turned over these records to the committee in November.

The committee reviewed Trump’s tax returns primarily from his time in office. Here are three major initial takeaways.

Loans and donations: Trump made repeated large charitable donations and loaned his three adult children either $51,000 or $46,000 for each of the six years covered in the returns.

Donations and loans are tax-deductible, which means they can reduce the amount of total income that can be taxed. But the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation raised concerns that both Trump’s loans and donations should have been subject to taxes. Trump didn’t have taxable income from 2015-2017, meaning any deductions he received for charitable donations or loans would carry forward and be applied in later years. He did have taxable income in 2018 and 2019, so he would benefit from previous deductions.

The taxation committee also raised concerns that the loans to his children were really gifts, which should have been taxed.

Sales: Each year except 2019, Trump listed millions of dollars in cost of goods sold, or the amount spent on getting products to customers, from his corporation DJT Holdings, LLC. The cost of goods sold is tax-deductible, which again would drive down his taxable income at the end of the year.

The returns do not specify which assets DJT Holdings had sold, but IRS audit files indicate that the company appeared to sell residential and hotel units. Real estate holdings are not considered inventory, so costs related to their sale are not eligible for tax deductions.

Losses:  In 2016 and 2017, Trump and his wife Melania paid $750 or less in federal income tax. They paid $0 in 2020. Trump paid taxes in the other three years, but at a far lower rate than the average taxpayer. Part of the reason why was because he listed millions of dollars in losses.

He reported a gross negative income of $53.2 million over the six years covered in the tax returns. Tax law allows taxpayers to carry losses over to another year, reducing the amount of taxable income. Trump repeatedly carried over his massive reported losses, dramatically reducing the amount of overall taxes he had to pay each year. Fittingly, Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, summarized Trump’s tax returns for The Los Angeles Times like so: “He’s a staggering loser.”

A Man Saved a Baby During New York’s Devastating Blizzard. Meanwhile, the City Towed His Car.

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A calamitous blizzard in upstate New York has left at least 39 dead and knocked out power for thousands. The ruinous winter-weather event fell hardest on the 1.1 million people of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, who were forced to fend largely for themselves and for each other, as local government agencies fell short.

One man and his neighbors embody the spirited lengths that people took to care for each other: Shaquille Jones was driving with his mother, niece, and sister—who was on crutches with a broken leg—as the storm approached. As the snow began to pile up, his truck got stuck, leaving his family mired for 18 hours because the police, who claimed to be on their way, failed to show up. After eventually being told that help was not on the way, Jones and his family scrambled to find shelter on their own.

Not long after his family was safe and secured, Jones decided he had an obligation to continue helping others in need. “After I figured that God gave me another chance at life, I have to try to save others. Because the police–they told me they weren’t coming, so I could only imagine what they told others,” Jones told CNN.

Shahida Muhammad, her husband, and their one-year-old baby were snowed in their home without power. The infant was in dire need of a ventilator: The husband and wife had spent two consecutive days—without breaks—manually giving their baby breath. Jones had seen the pleas for help that Muhammad had posted online, and sprang to action.

Jones and his friends reached the family’s home and dug the Muhammads out, potentially saving the life of the child. These saviors kept at it, continuing their work for days—purchasing and delivering supplies, giving rides to neighbors, and more.

While Jones and his retinue of do-gooders took on the personal toll and expenses of weathering the conditions and bringing aid to his neighbors, the local government somehow found a way to add to his burden. Jones’s vehicle—the one his family had to escape from after being stuck in it for 18 hours as no help came—was towed after it was pulled from the snow. The town of Amherst, a Buffalo suburb, charged him a $353.44 fee.

Meanwhile, officials have been desperate to deflect all blame for the crisis.

In a press conference earlier this week, five-term Buffalo Mayor Byron Browna cog of the New York Democratic Party machine—cited pictures of looters on social media and called them “the lowest of the low.” At the time of his statement, at least 27 people had died in the area due to the storm.

After the Erie County SNOW hotline, used for “non-life threatening but serious situations,” was inundated with 20,000 phone calls, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said residents should stop flooding the hotline and rely on local media and a YouTube broadcast instead. Poloncarz went on to slam Mayor Brown and the city of Buffalo’s response: “The mayor is not going to be happy to hear about it, but storm, after storm, after storm, after storm, the city, unfortunately, is the last one to be opened, and that shouldn’t be the case. It’s embarrassing, to tell you the truth,” he said.

The contradictory priorities of government stakeholders abound. Buffalo is home to a $1.4 billion stadium project that has absorbed $600 million from the state’s coffers, as well as $250 million from Erie County—money that clearly would have been better spent helping the state and county to prepare for the inclement weather that frequently buffets the region. Even a cursory look at Buffalo’s city budget reveals the skewed priorities: The city allocates more than twice as much money to the police than it does to public works.

As residents of the region were left without the assistance their taxpayer dollars were supposed to provide, India Walton, who nearly beat Brown in the last mayoral election, told Democracy Now, “It is everyday people … who are delivering food, who are going and rescuing people, who are going on search missions and doing wellness checks. It is the people of Buffalo, the everyday, hard-working folks of this city, who have been taking care of one another.”

December 30 Is Tax Day (For Donald Trump)

The former president's personal and business returns will finally be released to the public in one of the last acts of the Democratic Party-controlled House.

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It’s been a long time coming, but on Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee will show the United States the receipts: They will release Donald Trump’s tax returns, just in time to ring in the new year.

The Democratic-led committee has been trying to get Trump’s tax returns for three years. Trump famously refused to release them during the 2016 presidential election; doing so is not a legal requirement but has long been the norm. The Treasury Department turned over these records to the committee in November.

Trump repeatedly (convolutedly, and ridiculously) insisted that he couldn’t release his tax returns because they were under audit. But as it turns out, that wasn’t really true. The committee revealed last week that the IRS actually failed to audit Trump until 2019, despite a program that makes auditing sitting presidents mandatory. Those audits are not yet completed, according to the committee. Trump’s tax returns also show he paid $0 in taxes in 2020.

The committee reviewed six years of the former president’s tax returns, primarily from his time in office. The documents include his personal tax information, and that of several of his businesses.

Trump fought long and hard to prevent the release of his tax returns, which naturally only fueled suspicion and raised questions about why he would do so.

It has been, to put it mildly, a terrible year for Trump. The January 6 investigative committee unanimously recommended the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against Trump for his role in the insurrection. His Trump Organization was also found guilty of tax fraud and related crimes, and Trump himself is also under investigation by the FBI for taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. So the release of his tax returns will really be the cherry on a garbage sundae.

Biden’s Bid to Diversify the Federal Judiciary Hits a High-Water Mark

The president has made the most of Democratic control of the Senate.

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As the second year of his presidency draws to a close, Joe Biden has nominated an impressively diverse array of judges.

As the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, since he took office in 2021, 97 lifetime federal judges have been confirmed under Biden, far outpacing his predecessor Donald Trump (85) and former boss Barack Obama (62). This is due mainly to the fact that Democratic Party control of the Senate has allowed the president to push through nominations.

Three out of every four of those confirmations were women. About two-thirds were people of color. Eleven Black women were appointed to the powerful circuit court, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black Woman to serve on the Supreme Court. They also have a wide range of experience, including public defenders or people with backgrounds in workers’ rights.

The diversity of nominations “says to the American people…if you wind up in federal court for whatever reason, you’re much more likely to have a judge who understands where you came from, who you are, and what you’ve been through,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told the AP. “Having a more diverse federal bench in every single respect shows more respect for the American people.”

The push for diversity should come as no surprise. Biden promised to counteract Trump’s judicial legacy, which saw the judiciary pushed to the right, as well as bringing new perspectives to the bench beyond the overwhelmingly white and male nominees seen under Trump.

Biden’s number two is Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian vice president, and he boasts one of the most diverse cabinets in history. He also nominated Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Cook is the first Black woman to serve on the Board, and Jefferson is the fourth Black man.

But while he has done well in filling public-facing roles, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which focuses on issues related to Black equity, said he needs to do more to make sure internal positions are equally diverse.

Here’s Everything That George Santos Has Lied About (So Far)

This is an exhausting—but non-exhaustive—list.

George Santos in November
Alejandra Villa Loarca/Getty Images
New York Representative-elect George Santos

New York Representative George Santos has put on a clinic when it comes to building your own narrative. He has displayed inimitable will in showing that in politics, you don’t really need to “do” or “be” anything—you can just make it all up. That is, until The New York Times reports that you indeed, made it all up.

Since then, it’s been an unending cascade of revelations—each more bizarre than the last—showing that we can’t really trust anything that he has ever said. Poke around at practically any sentence he has uttered in public over the past few years, you’ll likely find something about it that isn’t quite right: lies, obfuscations, cover-ups, or simply absurd behavior kept under wraps. There’s so much—too much!—to keep track of. But we’ll give it a try. Here’s our exhausting, non-exhaustive list of all the yarn George Santos has spun.

Being a drag queen: A 2008 photo from Brazil depicts Santos, known at the time as Anthony, in a drag costume under the moniker Kitara Ravache. The photo comes from Santos’s old friend Eula Rochard, a Brazilian drag queen who has said she met Santos when he was a teenager, as they bonded over both being gay and enjoying drag.

Santos didn’t exactly lie about not doing drag, but he has vocally supported at least one anti-LGBTQ law and positioned himself among a political movement incredibly antagonistic toward drag queens and others who enjoy drag.

His mom’s death: In July 2021, Santos tweeted that “9/11 claimed my mothers life.” Santos’ campaign website explains that “George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.” Previously, the website wrote that she was also the “first female executive at a major financial institution,” and it did not include the detail that she had died from cancer.

Newly uncovered immigration records show that Santos’s mother was not even in the United States at all that day. She had applied for a visa to enter the United States from Brazil in February 2003, and on the application, she wrote that she hadn’t been in the United States since 1999.

Raising money for a homeless veteran’s dying dog through his “charity,” only to then steal the money and leave the veteran in the dust and his dog to die: In May 2016, Santos allegedly raised $3,000 for a homeless and disabled veteran’s service dog, Sapphire, who was suffering from a life-threatening stomach tumor. Santos claimed to have run a nonprofit called Friends of Pets United, and offered to help the veteran raise money for the dying dog through it. After Santos (who went by Anthony Devolder at the time) closed the GoFundMe, he took the $3,000 and was never heard from again. Sapphire died two months later.

Santos has previously claimed he ran his nonprofit, one “able to effectively rescue 2400 dogs and 280 cats, and successfully conducted the TNR [which stands for “trap neuter and release,” not “The New Republic”] of over 3000 cats,” according to his website. Axios found no evidence of this organization in either IRS filings or ProPublica’s nonprofit database. CNN found that he instead also ran a campaign for a pet charity under the alias “Anthony Zabrovsky,” on a GoFundMe page that no longer exists.

Leading a ponzi scheme company: Santos worked at Harbor City Capital Corporation in 2020 and 2021. In a 2021 complaint against the company, the SEC called it a “classic ponzi scheme.” Santos’s attorney told CNN that Santos was “completely unaware of any illegal activity” at the company. Santos himself told The Daily Beast that he was “as distraught and disturbed as everyone else” to learn about the complaints against Harbor City.

But CNN found a since-removed tweet from Santos’s since-deleted account (for which his name was George Devolder), showing him communicating with a customer complaining about potential fraudulent activity at Harbor City. “I’m sorry I’m not following you. Could you please send me an email at and we can go over this together,” Santos responded, showing he indeed became aware of complaints against the company. Santos also called himself “the head guy” at the company’s New York office and the company executive. In one 2020 clip, Santos claimed to manage a $1.5 billion fund for the company. So Santos is lying either about how much responsibility he had at the company, or whether he knew about the allegations against the “ponzi scheme” company—or some combination of both.

Being a volleyball star: Santos allegedly told the Nassau County Republican Chair that he was a volleyball star who helped lead the Baruch College team to a “league championship.” There is no record of Santos attending Baruch, and none of the team rosters include Santos.

Getting Covid and his general medical history: The Daily Beast reported a series of inconsistencies in Santos’ portrayal of when and how he got Covid. He has cited several different dates for when he tested positive for the virus and portrayed various different experiences of having it—sometimes saying the virus is overblown and “just [the] flu,” other times describing his time as “the worst two weeks of my life as an adult.”

He has also claimed underlying conditions—including immunodeficiency, acute chronic bronchitis, and a prior brain tumor—left him more susceptible to the virus. He has seldom mentioned these conditions elsewhere, nor has he provided further substantiation on them since.

Stealing all his friend’s money and pawning off her jewelry: Brazilian outlet Fantástico reported on a woman who was allegedly swindled by Santos over a decade ago. Adriana Damasceno said she met and befriended Santos at bingo in Niterói, a Brazilian city part of Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan area. In 2011, they allegedly traveled to the United States together, where Santos used her identity to go shopping, withdrawing all the money she had in the bank and even pawning jewelry. Fantástico says Santos did not respond to requests for comment.

His voting record and when he even joined the House: As of early January 4, one day after his first day, Santos’ website claimed he voted “nay” on the House omnibus bill, a vote that took place on December 23, 2022. The vote has since been scrubbed from the website. It is unclear why a newly-elected member of Congress would choose to do this.

The lie comes after Santos also posted a press release January 3 announcing his swearing in to Congress, something that actually hadn’t happened given that the House had yet to select a speaker. The mis-announcement could readily be chalked to an accidental posting or staffer mistake. Actively marking down a vote that simply never happened is also erroneous, but much less likely to be an honest mistake.

Animal charity: Santos claimed he ran a nonprofit called Friends of Pets United, “able to effectively rescue 2400 dogs and 280 cats, and successfully conducted the TNR [which stands for “trap neuter and release,” not “The New Republic”] of over 3000 cats,” according to his website. Axios found no evidence of this organization in either IRS filings or ProPublica’s nonprofit database. CNN found that he instead ran a campaign for a pet charity under the alias “Anthony Zabrovsky,” on a GoFundMe page that no longer exists.

His mom’s death: In July 2021, Santos tweeted that “9/11 claimed my mothers life.” A few months later, in December, he honored his mother with a tweet that read “December 23rd this year marks 5 years I lost [sic] my best friend and mentor. Mom you will live forever in my heart.”

Santos’ campaign website explains that “George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.” Previously, the website wrote that she was also the “first female executive at a major financial institution,” and it did not include the detail that she had died from cancer.

There have been deaths attributed to 9/11-related illnesses. Santos’ mother could indeed be among those, but the details are mucky, given his initial suggestion that Santos’ mother lost her life on the actual day.

Being a Brazilian criminal: Santos allegedly stole two checks belonging to an 82-year-old man his mother was taking care of, and used them to buy shoes and clothes. Santos was charged with embezzlement, and the case is actually still open.

An undisclosed marriage: Santos became the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. But the Daily Beast reported that Santos did not disclose a previous marriage he had to a woman—one that ended just 12 days before he began his first congressional campaign. “I’m very much gay…People change,” Santos has said. “I’m one of those people who change.”

His heritage: Santos, who has called himself “half Jewish” and a “Latino Jew” had repeatedly claimed his maternal grandparents “survived the Holocaust.” His website described them first fleeing Jewish persecution in Ukraine and settling in Belgium before again fleeing persecution during World War II. He has even claimed they changed their Jewish last name from Zabrovsky. But records show those grandparents were born in Brazil—with no indication of them having a Jewish background. And there is no evidence of his family changing their supposed last name.

In the manner of an amateur Dad-joke, Santos has in the past joked that he is “Jew-ish.” In an interview with Fox News host Tulsi Gabbard, he doubled down on that very normal defense.

Santos also claimed that his “White Caucasian mother, an immigrant from Belgium” fled “socialism in Europe.” Records show his mother, like her parents, was born in Brazil.

Santos has also claimed to be biracial—“Caucasian and black”—to be specific. In a statement responding to first reports from The New York Times into his lies, Santos only claimed to be a “Latino,” (before falsely attributing a quote to Winston Churchill). This does not preclude Santos from being biracial—but clarity on any part of his background has been hard to come by.

His professional background: Santos claimed to have worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup as a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor.” Both Goldman Sachs and Citigroup told The New York Times they had no record of his employment. Santos subsequently admitted he “never worked directly” for the companies, instead saying he interfaced with the companies while serving as VP at a company called LinkBridge.

He has also claimed to be a landlord, complaining on Twitter about people not paying their rent during Covid. The Times found no rental property-owning records associated with him.

His educational background: Santos has claimed that he obtained a degree from Baruch College. The school could not confirm that to be the case. “I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning,” Santos later admitted. “I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume.”

He also has repeatedly claimed to have attended Horace Mann, an elite New York City preparatory school. CNN reported the school did not have evidence of him ever attending.

His campaign funding: In 2020, Santos reported holding no assets and having a salary of $55,000 from his position at LinkBridge. The Daily Beast reported that just two years after that, Santos claimed a net worth as high as $11.5 million—all of it coming from the newly-formed Devolder Organization, from which Santos claims to have received $750,000 in salary and between $1 and $5 million in dividends. Some $700,000 of the organization’s money funded Santos’ campaign, in what looks to be a potentially illegal laundering of big-money donations.

The Pulse shooting: In an interview with WYNC, Santos said that four people who worked for him were killed during the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016 that left 49 people dead. The New York Times did not find any evidence for that claim.

Of course, tons of politicians exaggerate, embellish, and stretch the truth. But in the party of Herschel Walker, Donald Trump, and company, it seems “George Santos”—if that’s really even his name—will fit right in.

This post was updated.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Ready to Give George Santos a Chance

Having backed Kevin McCarthy's bid for the speaker's gavel, she needs all the votes she can get.

John Bazemore/Getty Images
Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

Embattled Representative-elect George Santos has been taking fire on numerous fronts as the steady drip of lies and fabrications continues to churn in the newscycle. But he has at least found one ally willing to look past all of his problems: Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Santos has admitted to lying about his professional background and education. He maintains he merely claimed to be “Jew-ish” despite previously claiming he was descended from Holocaust refugees. He has yet to explain how he went from reporting having no assets or earned income in 2020 to declaring he was worth millions in 2022. It apparently took 15 years for his mother to die in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

He now faces calls to resign and an investigation by the Nassau County district attorney. Fellow Republican New York Representative-elect Nick LaLota has called for Santos to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee. But the most prominent House Republicans have remained silent…until now.

Greene, one of the most vocal MAGA Republicans in Congress, came out swinging in Santos’s defense Tuesday night.

“I think we Republicans should give George Santos a chance and see how he legislates and votes, not treat him the same as the left is,” she said on Twitter, noting she believes “actions and words are extremely important.” Therein, of course, lies the rub: Greene is a conspiracy theorist who has lied to her constituents about the outcome of the 2020 election, Covid, and climate change. She has voted against major legislation that would improve the lives of the people she represents.

And all of her latest words and actions are likely nothing more than a power play. Greene has been an avid supporter of Kevin McCarthy’s bid for House speakership. With Republicans holding only a razor-thin majority in the chamber, McCarthy will need every vote he can get to take the gavel—and that includes Santos.

Santos won his district by only eight points. If he is recalled, there is no guarantee the district—which went for Joe Biden in 2020—will send another Republican to Congress.

Greene has tried to rally her colleagues behind McCarthy. If she succeeds, then the new speaker will owe her—and perhaps Santos—big time.