Lying is Okay — the House of Representatives Won’t Check Your Resume


Rep. Santos’s resume “embellishments” sold voters on a truly false identity. (Courtesy of Twitter.)

As the springtime approaches, many Fordham students find themselves applying for internships for the coming season. The first step, as any Career Center representative is sure to tell you, is the creation of a properly formatted resume, complete with all your skills and experience. 

A word of warning, however: while it might be tempting to “buff up” your resume by stretching the truth a bit, lying on a resume is a fireable offense. Any company, from a technological behemoth like Google to your local mom-and-pop donut shop, can terminate you if it’s discovered that you made fraudulent claims in your biography. 

So why is the U. S. House of Representatives different? 

Over the past month, headlines have revealed the series of false claims newly-elected New York Representative George Santos made during his campaign. Among other things, he claimed that he worked for Goldman Sachs (he didn’t), he has degrees from Baruch College and NYU (he has degrees from neither) and that he founded a non-profit animal rescue group (no records for the charity have been found). 

Despite wide-scale calls to resign, Santos has refused, saying that he merely “embellished” the truth. While some Republicans, including local leaders as well as other New York representatives, have called on Santos to step down, party leadership has remained largely quiet on the issue. Notably, newly-elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has declined to call for Santos to resign, saying only that the case could be brought before the House Ethics Committee. 

George Santos should be forced to resign from the House of Representatives, and Republican leaders should be more forceful in demanding that resignation. 

The main argument presented by some of Santos’s defenders is that Santos was duly-elected by his constituents. The voters of New York’s third congressional district, however, were misled. They voted for a man with multiple degrees, a man with extensive experience in the world of Wall Street, a man who spent his spare time helping innocent puppies. Santos, however, lied about all of those things, meaning that when voters went to the ballot, they weren’t getting the candidate they were promised. This is no mere “embellishment,” as Santos has claimed; he lied about major parts of his experience, things that could have a major impact on the way voters perceive him. At the very least, they should have the opportunity to reevaluate their choice, in the face of the overwhelming amount of misinformation they were handed.

Furthermore, Santos may have irreparably damaged his relationship with the electorate. After such blatant untruths, why would any member of Santos’s district trust him? Santos cannot possibly carry out his duties as representing a group of people who know him to be an outright liar. 

There’s also the issue of precedent. If Santos is not forced to resign, but is instead permitted to serve out the rest of his term in the House, then what is to discourage some future candidate from doing the same thing? One of the unfortunate things Santos has illustrated is the consequences of declining newspaper budgets in the United States; had the investigation into Santos’s past been carried out months earlier, before the election, he might not have ever been elected. However, due to a severe lack of resources provided to journalists, newspapers were unable to serve in their duty as a government “watchdog.” With 435 seats up for election in the House (not counting senatorial, state and local elections), newspapers may not have time to properly vet every single candidate who is running. If Santos isn’t punished, then what’s to stop future candidates from attempting to fake their resume, knowing that there will be no consequences when elected? 

Congress is ranked consistently as one of the least-trusted institutions in the United States. In a Gallup poll conducted in July 2022, only 7% of Americans said they had a “great deal of confidence” in Congress, the lowest score of any institution mentioned. Trust in American institutions is at an all-time low. McCarthy could use this opportunity to attempt to restore some small measure of trust in the House by forcing Santos to face up to the consequences of his actions. By beginning his tenure as Speaker by refusing to take a moral stance, McCarthy is doing nothing more than announcing to the American public that the corruption and hypocrisy that have plagued Congress for so long will continue under his leadership. 

A reminder to Fordham students applying to internships this spring: lying isn’t only unethical, but it could get you fired. Unless, of course, you decide to run for Congress. Then it’s just par for the course.