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Friday February 23, 2024

As George Santos exits, former allies start biting expelled Republican's back

George Santos said "Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place," after voting took place

By Web Desk
December 01, 2023
George Santos during a gathering. — AFP/File
George Santos during a gathering. — AFP/File

George Santos was expelled from Congress in a historical vote — the BBC spoke with a number of his constituents, friends, and staff members who felt deceived by his lying.

"Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place," Santos said after voting took place.

The representative added, "You know what? As unofficially no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer your questions."

Cathy Soref, like many others, was initially attracted when she sat next to George Santos at a fundraiser for another local Republican candidate in the New York area of Long Island in 2021.

Soref described the then-33-year-old as "nerdy," "whip-it smart," and a devotee of all fundamental conservative principles.

Santos ultimately became acquainted with Soref, coming by her house for coffee and telling her about the time he claimed to have battled illness. In exchange, Soref introduced him to her friends, who were key funders to his campaign, at costly events she gave at her Nassau County home.

When Soref and the rest of the country found Santos had lied about much of his background and was embroiled in a slew of fraud problems, including reportedly taking thousands of euros allocated for a dying assistance dog's operation, their friendship fell apart.

The 68-year-old was "gobsmacked", she told the BBC. "I've never been so betrayed by a person to my face in my life."

According to Tiffany Bogosian, a personal injury attorney who attended middle school with Santos in Sunnyside, Queens, Santos was a people pleaser from a young age.

Santos appeared to be bullied by his peers in his native Queens because of his sexuality, she claimed. 

The prospective congressman would eventually run his New York campaign as an openly homosexual Republican, becoming the party's first LGBTQ member elected to Congress.

But that didn't stop him from trying to win over the popular kids by taking them out shopping for clothes, Bogosian said.

Santos learned how to create a strong first impression as he rose through the political ranks, losing his reputation as a playground outcast.

"He was very nice, very engaging. Big sense of humour. In the beginning, I genuinely liked him," said Naysa Woomer, who served as his communications director for six months.

Woomer, who had worked in politics for 15 years, was ecstatic at the idea of working for a fellow millennial conservative from the north-east.

When it was revealed that Santos had falsified the majority of his résumé, Woomer remained in the position, thinking that the two could handle the situation with an effective communications campaign.

"I just thought, 'Maybe we can fix this,'" she said.

Woomer backs his expulsion. "He is unfit to serve," she said.

Bogosian concurs. She feels it will assist compel Santos to respond to individuals he is accused of defrauding and deceiving.

"Most criminals, they steal something and they make off into the sunset," Bogosian said. "He ran onto the global stage."

Soref, on the other hand, was conflicted. She didn't want him to depart because she didn't want to lose a critical Republican vote in Congress.

"The left is so intense. I do not want him replaced by Democrats," she said.