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How we dodged a bullet with the exposé of George Santos
A gay MAGA Republican, Santos was readymade to push the "groomer" lie on Tucker Carlson's show, and promote a "don't say gay" bill in Congress. Now he's blown up in the GOP's face.
Photo: George Santos (left) with Richard Grenell, former ambassador to Germany appointed by Donald Trump, at CPAC in 2021. From @Santos4Congress
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None of us knows exactly what will happen next regarding fabulist grifter George Santos. But one thing is clear: As a House representative, he’s severely damaged goods, exposed beyond anyone’s wildest imagination as a less-than-talented Mr. Ripley.
That is a great development for LGBTQ Americans as Republicans are set to push a federal “don’t say gay” bill through the House with the help of gay Republicans who psychotically believe they’ll be accepted by MAGA extremists immersed in QAnon conspiracy theories if they just throw some of their own under the bus.
Santos, who supported Ron DeSantis’s odious “don’t say gay” law, would have been front and center in this effort as the first non-incumbent gay Republican elected to the House. He’d surely have been the poster boy of self-hate, giving speeches on the floor and sitting on TV talk shows, pushing smears about gay teachers as “groomers,” and attacking drag queens and transgender people as dangerous to children.
But now Santos will be too preoccupied with keeping his seat in Congress, let alone keeping himself out of an American, or perhaps Brazilian, prison. He’ll have to keep his head down as GOP leaders do everything they can to hide this deranged fabricator from the press. Nothing he says will have even a shred of credibility.
Only weeks ago the tiny band of gay MAGA in politics was exhilarated over having one of its own in the House. But after the scandal broke the joyous squealing fell more silent than a herd of feral pigs that suddenly keeled over.
Richard Grenell, the big fish in the fetid little pond, was dizzy with delight after Santos’s win, having worked hard to get the fraudster elected. Trump’s gay far-right former ambassador to Germany tweeted out his triumph after Santos’s election was called on November 9th.
But now a cat’s got Grenell’s acid tongue. Usually spewing venom against those who expose MAGA mania, Grenell, like most of the rest of the GOP, hasn’t said a word about Santos since the New York Times bombshell exposé.
Santos, of course, made sure we all knew that he and Grenell were buddies going back to at least 2020.
And there they were, Santos and Grenell, cozying it up at CPAC in 2021 in Orlando.
It does make you wonder what Grenell knew about Santos and his fabrications going back a few years, since Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post reported on December 26th that “senior House Republicans were apparently aware of the inaccuracies and embellishments in Santos' resume, and the topic became a 'running joke,' multiple insiders close to House GOP leadership told The Post over the weekend.”
Is Grenell so out of the loop with GOP leaders? That certainly wouldn’t reflect well on his studiously-crafted reputation as an insider and as head honcho among the MAGA gays. It would be quite embarrassing for someone who actually did a brief stint as Trump’s Acting Director of National Intelligence. Talk about an intelligence failure.
Or did Grenell know about Santos and just took a gamble, since the possibility of holding Santos up as a gay Trumpist trophy was irresistible?
Whether he knew about Santos’s lies and grift or not, Grenell helped Santos raise money for his campaign. It was one thing Santos actually wasn’t lying about.
And Grenell enthusiastically endorsed Santos. “I'm proud to endorse George Santos for Congress in New York’s 3rd Congressional District,” Grenell stated back in July. “George will stand up to the Dems & Biden Administration to protect the American Dream.”
Grenell by far wasn’t the only one among gay MAGA who was bear-hugging Santos. The Log Cabin Republicans, the gay Republican group, fully got behind Santos, holding fundraisers for him and talking about how supposedly groundbreaking his campaign was.
Charles Moran, leader of LCR, fervently promoted Santos’s campaign, and surely hoped Santos would help him prove to the GOP leadership that gay Republicans could be counted on to largely dismantle LGBTQ rights in return for a puny seat at the rancid table.
After the Texas Republican Party earlier this year changed its platform to say that homosexuality is an “abnormal lifestyle choice” and banned LCR from having a presence at the party convention — showing that the GOP is going backwards on LGBTQ rights — Moran wrote an op-ed for USA Today, harrumphing that “gays have a place in Trump’s Republican Party.”
The premise was that Trump — who stripped LGBT rights and is arguably the most anti-LGBTQ president in history — was actually a “leader in LGBT inclusion” or some such nonsense. Moran wrote that the Texas GOP must have LCR “confused” with other gays who support “gender ideology,” and he emphasized that “our organization vocally defended Gov. Ron DeSantis” and the “don’t say gay” law.
Moran doesn’t seem to understand that when they say you made an “abnormal lifestyle choice” they mean that sodomy is as bad as or worse than a drag queen in a tiara.
Nonetheless, Moran was surely hoping that Santos would help MAGA gays to appease the anti-LGBTQ base by showing Santos could use his power as a member of Congress to attack drag queen story hours, vilify transgender people and promote the federal “don’t say gay” bill.
That bill, which would withhold federal funding from groups, local governments and schools that include LGBTQ content in any education or events, has at least 33 GOP co-sponsors. It won’t get a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, so it has no chance of passing in Congress. But it will allow House GOP leaders to bow to Christian nationalists and to inject hate into the culture via high-profile hearings that will promote bigoted smears. It will most certainly be the subject of relentless Fox News segments that demonize queer people.
Indeed, Santos, after his win and prior to the mega-scandal, was also surely exciting Fox News producers like Justin Wells, the gay man who is Vice President of Tucker Carlson Digital Products and senior executive producer of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” who were probably eyeing Santos as a regular guest. Wells, who I wrote about last month in an exposé that enraged many in his orbit, is the out gay man behind Carlson’s bloodcurdling hate, emboldening Carlson in his amplifying the “groomer” smear that has led to violence and death.
Surely Wells and Carlson were looking forward to booking Santos as a gay member of Congress to try to give some authority to the lies they spew. But now Santos is someone so tarnished that anything he says on this or any other issue would be laughed at. And he’s already been shredded to bits in an interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” by Tulsi Gabbard, who was filling in for Carlson and called Santos out as a pathological liar who had “no shame.”
Then there’s the news that broke in the New York Times over the weekend about a man, Pedro Vilarva, who said in an interview that he dated Santos.
Santos married a woman in 2012, per marriage records I cited, and divorced her in 2019, as reported by The Daily Beast. And yet, according to the Times:
Mr. Vilarva met Mr. Santos in 2014, when he was 18 and Mr. Santos was 26. Mr. Vilarva found him charming and sweet. They dated for a few months before Mr. Santos suggested they move in together.
Mr. Vilarva said…he did find himself footing many of the bills.
“He used to say he would get money from Citigroup, he was an investor,” Mr. Vilarva recalled. “One day it’s one thing, one day it’s another thing. He never ever actually went to work.”
Things began to unravel between the two men in early 2015, Mr. Vilarva said, after Mr. Santos surprised him with tickets to Hawaii that turned out not to exist…
Around the same time, he said he discovered that his cellphone was missing, and believed Mr. Santos had pawned it.
The betrayal prompted him to plug Mr. Santos’s name into a search engine, where he found that Mr. Santos was wanted by Brazilian police.
Vilarva, clearly realizing he was living with a twisted sociopath, said he packed in things in trash bags, called his father to pick him up and left.
Santos was 26, and Vilarva was 18 — a young man who, like many at his age, was easily swept up by Santos, who used him to foot the bill for living expenses. I tweeted how the GOP would frame this if Santos were a Democrat.
Let me be clear: They’re both consenting adults and there’s nothing wrong with them having a relationship, even if it was exploitative on Santos’s part, taking the younger man’s money. But, again, we know how the GOP would describe it.
And the Fox News audience, already predisposed to cringe at homosexuality, would not be sympathetic to a 26-year-old man who engaged in sexual activity with a male teenager.
So Santos is toxic for Tucker Carlson and his “groomer” crusade. But there’s more, because immigration is another obsession of Fox News. And Santos’s marriage to a woman suggests something very shady and perhaps illegal, such as immigration fraud.
The woman he married is from Brazil. Santos was in the second year of the marriage when he met a man and had him move in. Where was his wife? Was this, as some suspect, a situation in which Santos married this woman to give her citizenship through marriage.
One reporter had noted she was a long-time family friend. And, as I previously noted, Melissa Weiss at Jewish Insider reported that Santos promised a foreign boyfriend citizenship if he married him (in the same year he married the woman, nuptuals that took place at the clerk’s office in Manhattan.)
Santos is a walking time bomb — immigration fraud or any issue can suddenly blow up in Fox News’s (or the GOP’s) face. They won’t want to go anywhere near him. Even though he’ll be seated by a corrupt and desperate GOP — though it’s possible he may eventually be charged with crimes and forced from Congress — Santos thankfully won’t be used as the face of gay MAGA pushing “groomer” smears.