Santos leaves a House Republican conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, is a rare and serious genetic disorder that affects the skin – so rare, in fact, that only a small handful of charities work with people living with the disease. People who work in this world, it’s safe to say, tend to know each other. The person they say they don’t know—except, now, for the reputation he has painstakingly built up in recent months—is Congressman George Santos.
Early versions of Santos’ campaign website claimed that he and his family “committed to helping children with EB.” However, organizations representing EB patients have told VICE News that they have no record of Santos or his parents making any charitable donations to them, or making any other form of advocacy.
Santos made the EB claim on his campaign website in November 2020, according to the report from the Washington Post. In its entirety, the claim at the time read:
He and his family are also committed to helping children with EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa). Through various non-profit organizations across the country that support children around the world, they have been proud funders [sic] of organizations that help these children in remote parts of the world where they are denied basic hygiene to care for their wounds.
This was End-shutdown to Brett Kopelan, the CEO of debra from america, the US arm of DEBRA International, a global consortium of organizations working on behalf of people with EB. Kopelan was also president of DEBRA International, lobbying on behalf of EB patients, and is familiar, in his words, with “all the global EB charities.”
“I was not aware of George Santos claiming to have volunteered or donated to any EB charity globally,” he told VICE News. “In our general database and records, we have nothing showing volunteering or charitable giving in his or his family’s name.”
The next best natural candidate would be SOS EB Kids, which cares for and advocates for children with EB in Brazil, where Santos’s parents were born, and where Santos now faces a new investigation on charges of alleged check fraud. A spokesperson for the VICE News organization, “We searched our records and did not find any donations from Mr. George Santos, Ms. Fatima Devolder or Mr. Junior Santos.”
As the mail reported, Santos, or whoever created his website, at some point removed the highly specific EB claim entirely. It was replaced with language about him supporting “other organizations that help at-risk children and America’s veterans.”
All of this fits with what might be called, to a degree of understatement, a larger pattern: Santos has an established history of lying about Your backgroundyour achievements, your education, your religionhis mother’s deathand if your grandparents fled the holocaust. He faces a laundry list of colorful legal issues in both the US and Brazil, but has not been criminally charged or prosecuted in any jurisdiction in either country.
Santos’ office in Congress did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Santos’ personal attorney, Joe Murray, told VICE News: “As you can imagine, there are a number of investigations or at least reports of investigations. It seems that every prosecutor in the area has announced some kind of investigation, although none of them told me. has called. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment.”
In addition to being his personal lawyer, Murray was one of Santos’s first donors and considers him a friend. He told VICE News that, as a congressman, Santos is “overcompensating with sunshine and transparency and showing everything he does is right. He is, I think, doing everything he can to make sure everything is 100 percent ethical.”