Facing a mountain of scandals and lies, George Santos announced on 16 November that he would not seek re-election.
His decision came in the wake of a damning report by the House Ethics Committee, which found that the embattled New York Republican engaged in “uncharged and unlawful conduct.”
Mr Santos has in fact been charged, too. In May, he was arrested and charged with 13 federal criminal counts, including wire fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds. A superseding indictment was later handed down in October, increasing the federal charges against Mr Santos to 23.
In addition to the myriad of legal troubles, Mr Santos has also been accused of lying about his personal history. He has claimed that he played as a star volleyball player at Baruch College, worked at Goldman Sachs, has ancestors who fled the Holocaust, and that his mother died during 9/11; none of these claims have been substantiated.
Dogged by surely one of the oddest scandals to hit American politics in the last few years, Mr Santos has been facing calls for his expulsion and resignation even before he was seated as representative for New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
Let’s take a look back at how Mr Santos’ scandal-plagued political career evolved, from the beginning to now:
6 September 2022: The North Shore Leader begins probing Santos’s finances
Just two months before he would go on to be elected as a member of Congress, George Santos was the subject of a story in a small Long Island-area newspaper called The North Shore Leader. With no suggestion of how it occurred, the Leader pointed out that Mr Santos’s financial disclosure forms had indicated a shocking surge of wealth in just two years’ time.
“Controversial US congressional candidate George Santos has finally filed his Personal Financial Disclosure Report on September 6th – 20 months late – and he is claiming an inexplicable rise in his alleged net worth to $11 million,” wrote the paper’s reporter, Maureen Daly.
“Two years ago, in 2020, Santos’ personal financial disclosures claimed that he had no assets over $5,000 – no bank accounts, no stock accounts, no real property. A net worth barely above “zero”, Daly reported.
It was an important story, but drew little notice either from other journalists or local Democratic Party officials.
8 November 2022: George Santos wins his second bid for Congress
Following a defeat in 2020, George Santos finally saw success in his bid to join the House of Representatives in 2022, following more than a year of campaigning. New reports indicate that he was fundraising at Mar-a-Lago and in other GOP circles as early as mid-2021 with the help of operatives for Rep Elise Stefanik, chair of the House GOP conference.
He was swept to victory easily, with Democrats in the state spending little to oppose him.
19 December 2022: The New York Times jumps on the story
In an expansive investigation, the Times summarises its findings in a headline: George Santos’s background is “largely fiction”.
The first revelation of Mr Santos’s lies came in the form of an avalanche. In this one story, he was accused of lying about working for two different companies, attending a college, and even potentially about managing a “family firm” and controlling millions in assets.
Mr Santos couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer for most of the revealed falsehoods, which led other reporters at competing outlets to smell blood in the water.
21 December 2022: The Forward dives in