So he lied about his work at Goldman Sachs, he lied about his Baruch College degree, he lied about his family business, and oh yeah he's wanted for bad checks back in Brazil.That Democrats in the state left Tom Suozzi's seat open for this clown to win it over Robert Zimmerman, figuring Zimmerman would win by osmosis or something, should serve as a critical lesson to the state's cancerous Democratic state party.The fact that this level of scrutiny was not given to Santos until after her won with the rank lies and fabrications is a failure of the NY Times itself. This white supremacist clown should have been exposed months ago.But the NY Democratic Party should have had this oppo research ready to go. Even an afternoon of work would have cost Santos the race, and they just didn't care to do basic due diligence.
Let’s go through the opposition research process. A junior researcher is tasked to write a “book” — a comprehensive report laying out a buffet of opposition research attacks on a given opponent. Then a senior researcher oversees and edits the book. As the Democratic candidate was not chosen until Aug. 23 in a district Democrats won comfortably in 2020, this process probably started late and was rushed.
Think back to that animal-rescue nonprofit, which reportedly was not registered as a charity. How did Mr. Santos get away with that unnoticed? He didn’t, exactly. We have a copy of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s research book on Mr. Santos, polished for public consumption and posted online in August. Sure enough, we see that Mr. Santos’s charity is documented as unfindable in an I.R.S. database.
Documented, too, are evictions during the 2010s and instances of undisclosed personal finances that appear in the Times story. They’re in small sections interspersed through a nearly 90-page document, yet they’re there. Maybe given more time, the researchers could have gone further to confirm the nonprofit’s lack of state filings or could have contacted his former landlords.
What about Mr. Santos’s apparently lying about his employers and education? The Times reported that Baruch College could not confirm that he graduated in the year he claimed, and companies he has listed, such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, found no record of his employment. Often, opposition research is the dark art of searching databases and copying and pasting information so you can write prompts for reporters. You’d be shocked to know what a 20-something given enough time and direction can find out about a person. But oppo researchers are not private investigators, and it’s helpful to consider their sources. During their work, a researcher may notice there’s not a single piece of evidence outside of the candidate’s own claims about his or her history.
So how do you verify? There are sources like yearbooks and services used by employers for education checks, or you can always try asking politely. Employers and universities are under no requirement to share this information with anyone who calls — including a random person asking for the sake of political research. (Though I stress: The odds are better than you think if you ask.) An alternative solution is to bug newspaper reporters to ask those questions and hope their paper’s reputation compels an answer.
Reporters asking questions is what happened to Mr. Santos, as employers and schools spoke with The New York Times. Whether anyone else tried to this extent before, we don’t know. Certainly this story shows why researchers — and reporters — should kick the tires on even small claims by a candidate.
Let’s return to the research process: After a book is completed, communications staff members, campaign officials and consultants are briefed on the best hits the researchers could find for pitching to reporters and for advertising purposes. We can see one outcome of those briefings in a research-packed news release from the D.C.C.C. that blasted Mr. Santos as a “shady Wall Street bro.” Specifically, it highlights the absence of the nonprofit in the I.R.S. database and his previously undisclosed personal finances. It’s not the exact story, but months ago, a Democratic operative had the thought to call him “untrustworthy.”
Then what happened? The D.C.C.C. research department probably moved on to the next project. This year, as they do every two years, Democrats competed in hundreds of House races. The junior staff member may even be moved to a position at a technically distinct division and be legally unable to communicate with his or her former co-workers. That’s how some lines of inquiries never progress beyond PDF files.
Gently, however, I would suggest that the rest of the prepared Democratic research is quite compelling. Mr. Santos claimed he was at the Ellipse at the Stop the Steal rally in Washington, claimed in a video captured by trackers to have assisted with legal fees for Capitol rioters and said he supported a national abortion ban. Heavy stuff! That’s along with your standard politically toxic Republican agenda of cutting taxes for the rich while pursuing some form of partial privatization for Social Security.
We’re waiting for the final data, but Republicans probably carried this New York district for governor and senator. And that’s despite Senator Chuck Schumer’s spending $41 million to his opponent’s $545,000 statewide. Perhaps a stronger attack on Mr. Santos as a possible fraud would have allowed his Democratic opponent to escape such gravity.
The New York Attorney General’s Office said it is “looking into a number of issues" surrounding Congressman-elect George Santos, who was the subject of a bombshell New York Times investigation that questions whether the incoming Republican lawmaker fabricated much of his biography, including his education, work history and financial dealings.
The office, however, did not confirm whether it had opened an official investigation into Santos and declined to comment further on the matter.
A lawyer for Santos, Joe Murray, told NBC News in an email Thursday afternoon that he had "not been contacted by anyone" from the New York Attorney General's Office.
"I have nothing further to add at this time," he said.