A gay Republican congressional candidate from New York has claimed his pharmacist fiancé was fired after The New York Times linked to an Instagram photo of his showing the couple not wearing masks while attending a crowded New Year’s Eve party at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
George Santos, who narrowly lost to U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) in the race for New York’s 3rd Congressional District and has since announced his intention to run again for the swing seat in 2022, is lashing out at the Times for linking to his Instagram account as part of a story on the gala, to which an estimated 500 guests had been invited. The paper did not refer to Santos or his fiancé by name.
On his Instagram — which has since been made private but was public at the time the story went to press — Santos reportedly shared multiple photos of the ornately decorated ballroom, the dinner menu, and photos of him and his fiancé posting with other party attendees, including Rudy Giuliani. Almost all the photos showed guests failing to socially distance and not wearing masks.
But Santos has claimed, via Twitter, that the couple has faced repercussions for the photo, and places the blame squarely on the Times (which also conveniently plays into a longstanding Republican trope that the media is biased against conservatives).
“My fiancé & I had to leave our home this evening with our 4 dogs thanks to the @nytimes publishing of my Instagram showing me attending the #MarALago New Year’s Eve party,” Santos tweeted. “My fiancé, a pharmacist who worked 12h/7days shifts for 9 months was fired! The violence against us is real.”
My fiancé & I had to leave our home this evening with our 4 dogs thanks to the @nytimes publishing of my Instagram showing me attending the #MarALago New Year’s Eve party. My fiancé a pharmacist who worked 12h/7days shifts for 9 months was fired! The violence against us is real.
— George Santos (@Santos4Congress) January 3, 2021
It remains unclear how the Instagram photo led to his fiancé’s firing. Other details also remain unclear, including the name of the company that allegedly fired the fiancé, why the couple had to leave their home and whether they had received threats, or why a pharmacist would be fired for failing to wear a mask in Florida, which has no statewide mask mandate. Palm Beach County, where Mar-a-Lago is located, technically requires people to wear a mask in public, but the mandate is unenforceable due to an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis that prohibits local governments from assessing fines or penalties for noncompliance.
Santos also complained on his Instagram, writing: “@Nytimes you have exposed my family to danger and have striped (sic) one of us of our livelihood! This is unAmerican,” according to the Daily Mail.
Trump’s annual New Year’s Eve bash at Mar-a-Lago has been a long-running tradition that pre-dates his political career and typically draws hundreds of people. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were forced to skip the event at the last minute, but the president’s family, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and other major conservative or Republican figures were reportedly in attendance at the event, according to the Times.
Santos, who contracted COVID-19 in early 2020 and even developed pneumonia as a result of the infection, has nonetheless been highly skeptical and critical of New York’s restrictions regarding lockdowns, social distancing, and contact tracing, often railing against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has become Republicans’ newest bogeyman.
Upon returning to LaGuardia Airport from Florida, Santos was asked to fill out a health form for contact tracing. He then made a short video calling the contact tracing form “communist” and claiming that the New York National Guard, who were dressed in fatigues and pressing people to fill out the form was being “weaponized” against the citizens.
“The New York National Guard has been weaponized against us. They stand in 3 groups of 4 HARASSING us with his “trace core” NONSENSE inside @LGAairport,” he tweeted. “Making it all very clear now, @NYGovCuomo is a dictator and must be stoped! (sic)”
The New York National Guard has been weaponized against us. They stand in 3 groups of 4 HARASSING us with his “trace core” NONSENSE inside @LGAairport Making it all very clear now, @NYGovCuomo is a dictator and must be stoped! #COVID19 #NY #Communist #stopCuomo
— George Santos (@Santos4Congress) January 2, 2021
Santos, who would have been the first openly gay Republican member of Congress had he won, focused his campaign on stopping “socialism,” support for local law enforcement, ending New York’s cash bail reform law, and several boilerplate Republican economic policies. He also advocated for protecting “churches and synagogues from ever being mandated upon by the government” in his Ballotpedia profile, a reference to Cuomo’s controversial restrictions on houses of worship in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Santos was subsequently lambasted on Twitter for attending the party and then blaming the Times for the fallout.
“That doesn’t sound like violence. It sounds like you attended a superspreader event in the middle of a pandemic. Stupidity at its finest,” tweeted one user.
That doesn't sound like violence. It sounds like you attended a superspreader event in the middle of a pandemic. Stupidity at its finest.
— Carol Persists formerly Resists (@BruinCarolCB) January 3, 2021
“A couple of things. 1. We are in a pandemic – like it or not, believe it or not. it is real 2. Going maskless – against CDC guidelines 3. A pharmacist should know better, so should you. 4. You posted it publicly on a public social media site. What do you think would happen?” tweeted another.
A couple of things.
1. We are in a pandemic – like it or not, believe it or not.
it is real
2. Going maskless – against CDC guidelines
3. A pharmacist should know better, so should you.
4. You posted it publicly on a public social media site. What do you think would happen?
— jcstudiowest – wear a mask (@jcstudiowest) January 4, 2021
Journalist and senior advisor at the Justice Collaborative (and Metro Weekly alum) Chris Geidner replied: “Wait, do I have this right? You’re a guy running for Congress, and you’re upset that the paper that covers your district is … covering your campaign-oriented Instagram account?”
Wait, do I have this right? You’re a guy running for Congress, and you’re upset that the paper that covers your district is … covering your campaign-oriented Instagram account?
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) January 3, 2021
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