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The Democrat who lost to GOP Rep.-elect George Santos in the race to represent New York’s Third Congressional District is calling on Santos to resign after the New York Times published a bombshell investigation suggesting that he fabricated key parts of his résumé during the campaign.
“The reality is Santos flat-out lied to the voters of NY-03,” Robert Zimmerman, who lost to Santos by 8 points in last month’s midterm elections, said in a statement late Monday. “He’s violated the public trust in order to win office and does not deserve to represent Long Island and Queens.
“Santos’ failure to answer any of the questions about these allegations demonstrates why he is unfit for public office and should resign,” Zimmerman added. “It demonstrates why there must be a House Ethics Committee, Federal Elections Commission, and U.S. Attorney investigation immediately.”
The Times report published on Monday found that Santos may have misled voters about his college graduation, his criminal and employment history, his family-owned business, his animal rescue charity and his relationship with four victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.
In a statement, Joseph Murray, an attorney for Santos, said that his client “represents the kind of progress that the Left is so threatened by — a gay, Latino, immigrant and Republican who won a Biden district in overwhelming fashion by showing everyday voters that there is a better option than the broken promises and failed policies of the Democratic Party.”
“After four years in the public eye, and on the verge of being sworn in as a member of the Republican-led 118th Congress, the New York Times launches this shotgun blast of attacks,” Murray continued. “It is no surprise that Congressman-elect Santos has enemies at the New York Times who are attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations.”
The statement — which ended with a quote erroneously attributed to Winston Churchill — did not directly address the allegations that appeared in the story in the Times.
If Santos were to resign, a special election would be called to fill his seat.
The revelations in the Times article also raise questions about why neither the Zimmerman campaign nor the Democratic Party, which lost control of the House of Representatives in the midterms, were unable to uncover the apparent holes in Santos’s biography before the election.
“This story is not a shock,” Zimmerman said, insisting that his campaign “worked to raise many of these issues” uncovered by the Times.
New York state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs defended the Zimmerman campaign, telling CNN, “It’s unfair to blame the campaign for opposition research work that it did because the resources of a campaign are not as significant as a paper like the New York Times.”
“The important thing is to focus on George Santos,” Jacobs added. “He’s got a lot of explaining to do.”