Santos, the elected Republican representative from New York, was making his vote for Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) in the 10th round of his bid to become Speaker of the House of Representatives Thursday (Jan. 5). As he did by raising his right hand, his left arm was folded across his waist and observers noted from the coverage on C-SPAN that his left hand made a sideways “OK” gesture.
The gesture has been appropriated by white nationalists as an expression of white supremacy, which was first boosted by right-wing trolls on the 4chan website in jest. There are those who use the gesture as a way to “trigger liberals,” as shown by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Santos’ action was not received well by many, including another Representative from New York, Democrat Ritchie Torres who derisively wrote on Twitter: “George Santos is not biracial but tri-racial. He has Latino, black, and now white power.”
Santos has been constantly under fire ever since he admitted to lying about large swaths of his work and education history after an investigation by the New York Times in late December found many discrepancies in his story. Further investigations also found that Santos had attended a gala in Manhattan that was frequented by numerous white nationalist figures and prominent supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Santos was sworn in after McCarthy finally was elected speaker Friday night (Jan. 6). The troubles for the congressman aren’t over – on Monday morning (Jan. 9), a formal ethics complaint was filed against him with the Federal Election Commission by the Campaign Legal Center. The Washington D.C.-based nonprofit group contends that Santos illegally used campaign funds for personal use. Authorities in Brazil have also announced that they will reopen a fraud case against Santos involving a stolen checkbook in 2008 in Rio de Janeiro.