(NewsNation) — In a NewsNation interview, drag performer Eula Rochard says they knew embattled New York Rep. George Santos while in Brazil and claims the congressman is a “liar.”
Santos is facing new accusations about his past, including that he dressed as a drag queen and competed in Brazilian beauty pageants, lied about work history and fabricated that his mother died in 9/11. But the latest allegation about his past in Brazilian beauty pageants, with images surfacing that an acquaintance says show Santos, draws a contrast with the openly gay Republican congressman’s staunchly conservative views.
The 58-year-old Brazilian performer, who uses the drag name Eula Rochard, said they befriended the now-congressman in 2005 at the first gay pride parade in Niteroi, a Rio de Janeiro suburb. Three years later, Santos competed in a drag beauty pageant in Rio, Rochard said.
“He has always been a liar. But he used to lie about silly things,” Rochard told NewsNation. “What he did in the U.S. is not cool.”
Another person from Niteroi who knew the 34-year-old congressman but asked not to be named said he participated in drag queen beauty pageants and aspired to be Miss Gay Rio de Janeiro.
Meanwhile, Santos denies he ever dressed in drag.
“The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag queen or ‘performed’ as a drag queen is categorically false,” Santos said on Twitter Wednesday. “The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I am working to deliver results. I will not be distracted nor fazed by this.”
Santos is the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat in Congress as a non-incumbent, but has positioned himself as a staunch conservative on many social issues.
He has backed Florida’s controversial “Parental Rights in Education” law, which prohibits classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, leading critics to call it the “don’t say gay” law.
Republicans are increasingly denouncing drag shows and performers, claiming they are harmful to children.
Santos, responding in October to criticism of his support for the Florida law, told USA Today: “I am openly gay, have never had an issue with my sexual identity in the past decade, and I can tell you and assure you, I will always be an advocate for LGBTQ folks.”
Also on Wednesday, Santos denied reports he promised to help raise money for a dog’s life-saving surgery — and kept the money for himself.
“The reports that I would let a dog die is (sic) shocking & insane. My work in animal advocacy was the labor of love & hard work,” he said, also on Twitter. “Over the past 24hr (sic) I have received pictures of dogs I helped rescue throughout the years along with supportive messages. These distractions won’t stop me!”
It’s the latest in a list of allegations and self-admitted lies told by the representative that are now plaguing the freshman’s first few weeks on Capitol Hill.
These fabricated stories include claiming his mother was inside the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when records show she was in Brazil; allegedly using fake names in college for online fundraisers, and saying his grandparents fled the Holocaust. He later denied claiming to be Jewish, saying he is a Catholic.
Rochard also refuted Santos’ claim that he and his mother were in the U.S. for 9/11.
“I saw, I saw her in person. His mother, her daughter, and himself,” Rochard said. “So there was a ghost living in Niteroi, hauting the gays on the streets of Niteroi.”
Neighboring New York Congressman Ritchie Torres, a Democrat, filed an official complaint with the House Ethics Committee.
“He has essentially pretended to be a biracial, Ukrainian, Belgian, Brazilian volleyball champion and brain cancer survivor whose mother died twice, including on 9/11, whose ancestors survived the Holocaust, whose employees died in the Pulse mass shooting, and who miraculously became a multi-millionaire overnight,” Torres said.
Calls for Santos to step down are only growing louder on Capitol Hill, including from the GOP. One Republican who isn’t calling for him to quit is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who, with a narrow 4-vote majority in the House, needs every GOP seat he can get.
“Voters have elected George Santos,” McCarthy has said. “If there is a concern he will go through Ethics. if there is something that is found he will be dealt with in that manner, but they have a voice in this process.”
As for what happens next in the Santos saga — we just don’t know.
In addition to the calls to resign, Santos is facing local state and federal investigations, including in Brazil where he is accused of fraud.
Reuters contributed to this story.