A dozen Democratic protesters gathered Thursday outside a small congressional office in Douglaston, Queens, calling on embattled Rep.-elect George Santos to step aside or — at the very least face his constituents.
Holding signs calling Santos a liar, and a miniature Pinocchio doll, the protesters met near a green awning above the office’s entrance that once belonged to his predecessor, Rep. Tom Suozzi.
The fact that the new representative had not set up his own district office they said was yet another sign that Santos was unresponsive to voters.
“We refuse to have an absentee member of Congress,” said Joshua Lafazan, a Nassau County legislator who lost the Democratic primary against Santos last year. “You lied to get a job, show up and do the job.”
In the past three weeks, countless revelations have emerged about a web of dubious claims Santos, a Republican, told on the campaign trail.
Among them was Santos’ claim of being the Jewish grandson of Holocaust survivors (he later said he was “Jew-ish”). He also claimed to have employed four people killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting, which he’s since said he has not but that they were "were going to be coming to work for the company that [he] was starting up in Orlando."
He’s also admitted he made up where he worked and what schools he attended, though looming questions remain about where he suddenly made millions, and how he funded his congressional campaign.
Members of Congress are supposed to open offices in the districts they represent, unless they have specific permission to open them elsewhere.
Santos’ was slated to be sworn in Tuesday, though that’s been put on ice indefinitely, with Republicans unable to select a speaker, after several failed votes. A swarm of reporters greeted Santos upon his arrival in Washington earlier this week, though he reportedly dodged their questions.
Constituent Vicky Cosgrove said she was befuddled there wasn’t more vetting required ahead of the election.
“I was an early childhood teacher. I had to get a masters degree in education,” she said. “If you want to work at the [Department of Education], you have to take a test.”
At a CVS across the street from the rally, April Nguyen said she voted for Santos after reading his biography online. “I thought, OK. Give him a chance,” she said. “He’s new.”
When she learned Santos fabricated huge swaths of his supposed background, Nguyen, 50, said she was “so livid.” She wants him to step down.
“If you cannot be true to yourself, you cannot have integrity for your own self – what makes you think you can stay and represent the people?” said Nguyen, who is a registered nurse.
Santos is facing the threat of multiple investigations; on the federal, state and local level. While some members of New York’s Republican delegation have voiced concerns about Santos’ fabrications, they’ve stopped short of calling for him to step down. The party holds a slim majority in the House, with 222 votes.
He hasn’t returned various requests for comment over multiple days.
At the rally, Jody Kass Finkel — organizer of a “Resign George Santos” petition — said Santos should step down.
“Santos is a charlatan,” she said. “He’s a conman. He should not be a congressman.”
Roberta Glick, another Santos constituent, said she was particularly troubled by Santos’s apparent fabrications regarding his Jewish faith.
“It’s disgusting, as someone who is Jewish and proud of my Judaism, to hear about the way he talks about being ‘Jew-ish,’” she said. “I don’t even know what that means.”