The Real Santos Shocker

George Santos
The most shocking element of the Santos imbroglio is that none of this came out before the election. Photo: David Becker for the Washington Post
Tara Palmeri
December 29, 2022

Every day seems to bring a fresh revelation about D.C.’s new talented Mr. Ripley, George Santos. But for me, as a former New York Post reporter, the most shocking element is that none of this came out before the election, especially given the fact that his Democratic opponent was Robert Zimmerman, who had hired the powerful consultancy SKDK to run his campaign. Zimmerman is not some bright-eyed, political neophyte. He’s a political animal who knows the game as well as anybody, and certainly had the phone number of every News12, Newsday, Daily News and New York Post reporter to place such juicy allegations. He was a talking head on TV, a D.N.C. member, and a former political aide and appointee, who worked for two congressmen on Capitol Hill, in the New York State legislature, and later as an appointee in the Mario Cuomo administration. He moved on to hang his own shingle—a marketing and P.R. firm called ZE Creative Communications.

But here’s what I learned from an operative in another New York camp: Zimmerman, who was short on cash after an eight month, five-way primary in a reconfigured district, made some grave miscalculations. After being handed a half-baked oppo packet on Santos from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he decided against spending between $30,000 to $50,000 to develop that research, which would have made it easier to report and might also have turned up other falsehoods, like the fact that Santos is not Jewish or the mysterious origin of the $750,000 income that The New York Times reports is currently being investigated. Instead, Zimmerman had to raise $2 million in 10 weeks, so he decided not to make the investment.