the talented mr. santos

A Guide to George Santos’s Pivot From Politics to Celebrity

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Did you think George Santos would go away? In the weeks since he was expelled from Congress for a laundry list of alleged crimes and proven fabrications, the spotlight-loving former congressman has kept himself busy. Aware that he may not be able to monetize his life for that much longer (he may be heading to prison soon), Santos has stayed in the public light and is attempting to wring as much attention and money from it as he can. Here is a list of everything the congressional con man has been up to since he was forced to switch careers.

He’s making a killing on Cameo

Three days after his expulsion from Congress, Santos joined the video platform Cameo, offering recorded messages to strangers and fans for $75 a pop. His page originally said he would only record 150 messages, but as requests poured in, Santos realized he was sitting on a gold mine. He nixed the limit and raised the price to $150. Then $200. Then $300. As of mid-December, he’s charging $500 or each recording, and $20 to even message him.

State-level Democratic officials have bought Cameos from him, as has Senator John Fetterman, who used his to troll New Jersey senator Robert Menendez. Then there’s the weirder stuff:

Santos has claimed that he made more on Cameo in one week than his congressional salary of $174,000.

He’s been trash-talking his former colleagues

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: George Santos is making fun of his his co-workers. After his removal from Congress, Santos has continued to go after his erstwhile New York Republican colleagues, who have loudly criticized him over the last year. Santos came for Representative Brandon Williams, posting on X that he is a “terrible pompous drunk and a bully to your staff!” Without any evidence at all, he claimed that Staten Island representative Nicole Malliotakis was involved in insider trading, trying out the subpar nickname of “Nicole MallioStockTips.” He also suggested that Malliotakis was gay. (A representative for Malliotakis told the New York Post, “We don’t respond to expelled George Santos because he is a scorned and known serial liar.”)

Santos seems eager to cause more trouble for his former coworkers. On December 14, Santos announced that he was offering a $7-a-month-subscription on X. In a short video announcement he promised to dish out “piping hot tea” and told members of Congress to “beware” of what’s coming.

He’s hitting the talk circuit

Given the political leaning of most late-night talk shows, it’s unlikely that Santos will be chatting with with Stephen Colbert or either of the Jimmys anytime soon. But on December 10, he spoke with CBS News New York’s Marcia Kramer for a congressional postmortem. He said that his last week in office “felt like a movie” and that he was proud of the “legacy I leave behind” from his three months in Congress. He added that his “road to redemption” would be to expose political corruption and that Long Island is a “corruption cesspool.”

“I saw how the sausage is made, and I have receipts and I’m willing to show the American people,” he went on. “You don’t need to believe me; you need to believe the proof and the evidence.” He also claimed that that there are emails showing that a staffer fabricated his campaign bio, not Santos himself. But, in the “essence of justice,” he would have to wait a few months before publishing those emails. (He did not mention the many other lies he could not pin on staffers.)

On December 12, Santos spoke with Frank Morano, host of “The Other Side of Midnight,” which airs from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on WABC. He told Morano that he’d like to return to Washington, saying, “I’m not done with public service. I want to go back to Congress,” while allowing that this will not happen in the near future.

He also accused two of his nemeses in Congress, fellow New York Republicans Nick LaLota and Anthony D’Esposito, of copying his fashion habits, telling Morano, “I’m a trendsetter, and they had no option other than understand that I had a sense of style and that I just don’t wear the same cheap-cut suits over and over like they all do.”

There’s more to come. On December 18, former Showtime host Ziwe Fumudoh posted a wide-ranging chat with Santos on everything from Nicki Minaj to the “DOJ stuff.”

It’s Santos party time

After the New York Young Republican Club’s gala on December 9, Santos went out with representatives Lauren Boebert and Byron Donalds to the Beach Cafe, a GOP hot spot on the Upper East Side. According to “Page Six,” Santos used his Cameo earnings to pick up the tab for his friends and bragged about how much money he was making, telling pals that he recorded 140 orders the day before at $599 a pop. That would be an impressive $83,860 in one day, though Santos has been known to self-mythologize just a bit.

He’s reportedly got an agent

Television and other media offers have likely already started coming in —Santos screams “reality TV” — though none have been publicized yet. Deadline reported earlier this month that HBO Films has optioned reporter Mark Chiusano’s book on the congressman, which will be executive produced by Veep producer and New York writer-at-large Frank Rich. And Santos has reportedly hired an agent. But Santos doesn’t sound totally convinced that he’ll be a television fixture. “There’s this big disconnect that the entertainment industry is trying to cross me over to become a reality star, but they are forgetting one thing — I am the most conservative member of the New York delegation,” he told Semafor.

He’s (presumably) preparing for trial

It may not be as fun as recording bizarre videos or making fun of your former co-workers, but sooner or later, Santos is going to have to sit down with his lawyer and prepare for his trial, which begins on September 9, 2024. Santos is facing a hefty 23 federal charges, including seven counts of wire fraud and three for money laundering. (As of his last court filing in October, Santos was represented by an attorney named Joseph Murray, who was part of the Capitol riot.) Speaking with CBS News New York, he said that “a plea is not off the table at this point, but we just don’t know that yet.”

In a filing in court on Monday, prosecutors were more direct about plea negotiations. “The parties are presently engaged in plea negotiations with the goal of resolving this matter without the need for a trial,” prosecutors stated in a filing. Santos is scheduled to appear in a procedural hearing in federal court in Long Island at 10:30 a.m. on December 12.

A Guide to George Santos’s Pivot From Politics to Celebrity