Great is the truth? Congressman George Santos lies about attending Horace Mann


Clara Stevanovic , Staff Writer

Last week, CNN reported that New York-Congressman-elect George Santos lied about having attended Horace Mann — just one of many biographical fictions that the Republican Congressman-elect has told to gain votes.

Santos ran in New York’s third Congressional District, the wealthiest in the state, which encompasses affluent northern Nassau County and a sliver of northeastern Queens. Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman winning 54% of the votes. The 118th Congress began on Tuesday, but none of the members have been sworn into office yet because the House of Representatives has yet to elect a speaker. 

Santos first fabricated the story in the campaign biography for his failed 2019 congressional run which claimed: “He began Horace Mann preparatory school in the Bronx, however, did not graduate from Horace Mann due to financial difficulties for his family.”

In 2020, Santos elaborated during an appearance on the Youtube channel “Police Off The Cuff,” a podcast hosted by two former New York Police Department officers. In true pandemic fashion, Santos appears on the Zoom screen looking like a man of the people: camera angled just under his chin; display name simply, “George.”

Santos claimed that he attended “Horace Mann Prep” until his parents were hit by the Great Recession in 2008. “You can’t afford a $2,500 tuition at that point, right?” Santos told the interviewers. “So I left school four months to graduation.” 

The actual tuition for the 2007-2008 academic year was $30,830.

Before Santos launched into the next chapter of his life story, host Bill Cannon interrupted. “Horace Mann wouldn’t hit you up with a scholarship?”

Santos explained, “Unfortunately at the time, I wasn’t the only student going through that same issue.”

Cannon responded, “Horace Mann has more money than God though?”

Santos agreed.

Santos’ allegations about leaving the school due to financial difficulties are entirely dishonest and demonstrate how little he knows about the school’s ethos, Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly wrote in an email. “Even more frustrating than this person’s dishonesty is the fact that he alleges we removed him, four months shy of graduation, over an unpaid tuition bill resulting from a family hardship. HM would never behave that way.”

In the CNN article, the school’s spokesman Ed Adler fact-checked Santos’ claims. “We’ve searched the records and there is no evidence that George Santos (or any alias) attended Horace Mann.”

A New York Times article confirmed the falsehood, as Brazilian police reports and court records for fraudulent purchases Santos made reveal he was living near Rio de Janeiro in 2008. 

Furthermore, if Santos’ July 22, 1988 birthdate is accurate, he would have been nearly 20 years old when he was a senior at the school.

Avi Rao (12) was shocked to hear that Santos claimed to be a Horace Mann alum. “Before I even considered whatever damage his election has done, I just could not believe that [Santos] lied about going to Horace Mann. He’s a clown,” Rao said. It was strange that Santos chose to lie about attending Horace Mann in particular, he said. “That just goes to show that this school is a place where people want to be.”

Santos’ actions reflect poorly on his character and that of other politicians as well, Annika Bhandari (9) said. “This shows that people don’t always prioritize the truth,” she said. “It’s hard for people, once elected, to be punished for their actions.”

“It says something about the state of our politics today,” history teacher Barry Bienstock said. “That somebody can lie in such an open way and not think he is going to get caught. And apparently get elected to Congress.”

Allowing Santos to remain in office is unjust, Charles Ampah (11) said. “The fact that people have acknowledged he isn’t who he said he is, means he shouldn’t really represent the people.”

Although Steve Yang (12) thinks Santos should resign, he does not think that Santos will take it upon himself to leave Congress.

He doubts that Santos’ Republican colleagues will remove him from office since the House of Representatives does not have a speaker right now. “Santos supports Kevin McCarthy, and I don’t think McCarthy wants him out.” If Santos resigns, Democrats may very likely win his Democratic-leaning house seat, making it important to the Republican party that Santos says in office to maintain their slim majority, he said. 

The fact that Santos remains a congressman reveals how desperate the Republican Party is for seats in the House right now, Rao said. “They’re willing to accommodate a pathological liar who has even committed fraud.”

The Republican Party could use this moment to demonstrate that they do not accept habitual liars in their ranks, History Department Chair Dr. Daniel Link said. “I hope that the Republican Party will do the right thing when it comes to Mr. Santos, though his fate may not actually be decided only by the Party.” Santos continues to face pending legal charges for fraud, which may ultimately lead to his removal from Congress.

Some community members found humor in Santos’ fabrications, including his false claim that he is Jewish. “I was joking with friends that he became the head of the Jewish student union,” Bienstock said.