Metro Weekly

George Santos Accused of Sexual Harassment by Prospective Staffer

Derek Myers has filed both an ethics complaint and a criminal complaint against the gay Republican congressman.

Photo Illustration by Todd Franson – Original image: U.S. House of Representatives

A former prospective staffer to openly gay U.S. Rep. George Santos claims that the 34-year-old first-term congressman made an unwanted sexual advance after he was hired on a trial basis.

The individual, Derek Myers, posted on Twitter that he filed both a police report with Capitol Police and an ethics complaint regarding the alleged sexual harassment.

“As stated in the filings, my complaint pertains to violations of House Ethics in which I was an unpaid volunteer performing staff duties with the promise of employment and compensation, only to be released after several days of work without compensation,” Myers wrote.

“Additionally, my filings detail sexual harassment I endured in the office of the Congressman. These matters will hopefully be appropriately addressed by the police and the Ethics Committee, respectively in due time.”

Both the U.S. Capitol Police and the House Ethics Committee have declined to comment on the matter, although a spokesman for the committee’s most senior Democrat, U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) did confirm to the Post that the committee had received Myers’s complaint.

According to a copy of the ethics complaint posted to Twitter, Myers applied to work as a legislative correspondent and staff assistant in Santos’s D.C. office.

He went into the office on Jan. 24, met with staff, and was “assigned a desk,” spending the rest of the day working as a “volunteer” until his paperwork was processed.

As part of the complaint, Myers has asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether that arrangement violates ethics rules.

Myers then alleges that, on his second day in the office, Santos asked him if he had a profile on the mobile dating app Grindr, stating that he also had a profile there. Myers has since said, in his complaint, that another Santos staffer may have witnessed that exchange. 

Later that day, Myers alleges he was alone with Santos in the congressman’s personal office, going over mail correspondence, when Santos, the first out gay Republican to be elected to Congress as a non-incumbent, purportedly changed the topic of conversation “by placing his hand on my left leg, near my knee” and inviting him to karaoke that evening.

Myers says he declined the offer, at which point Santos allegedly moved his hand up Myers’s leg and touched his groin, saying, “My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over,” and giving him his address.

Myers said he “quickly pushed” the congressman’s hand away and returned to his desk.

On Jan. 30, Myers says he was called into the congressman’s office and was questioned about his background, including his previous work as a journalist. The job offer was rescinded the next day.

Myers, who previously wrote for a small Ohio newspaper, was arrested and charged with wiretapping last year after publishing audio of in-court testimony that someone else recorded, in violation of a court order, on the newspaper’s website.

First Amendment advocates, including The Society of Professional Journalists, criticized the charge as “bogus” and have called it a threat to the freedom of the press, urging prosecutors to drop the charge. 

In an email to The Washington Post, Myers alleged that the job in Santos’s office would have paid him $50,000 a year, with benefits. 

“I am heartbroken,” he wrote. “I want my job back, for the people, but not under him.”

When asked if he believed the job offer was rescinded because he rejected the congressman’s sexual advances, Myers told the Post via email, “The timing certainly raised the prospect of the answer being ‘yes.'”

Santos previously told the news outlet Semafor that his office had been in the process of hiring Myers when his staff learned about wiretapping charges in Ohio.

Santos then arranged a meeting to allow Myers the opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding his past.

After questioning him, Santos ultimately decided not to hire the former journalist, claiming Myers’s answers were “evasive.” Hours later, an audio recording of Santos’s conversation with Myers was provided to the liberal news website Talking Points Memo.

It is legal under federal and local D.C. law to record one’s own conversation without the other participant’s consent.

But Santos told Semafor he plans to alert prosecutors in Ohio about the incident and has demanded that Myers’s White House press pass — if Myers does have one, as he claims — be revoked.

In the audio recording obtained by Talking Points Memo, Santos tells Myers he will not be getting the job as a legislative correspondent. But the conversation takes many bizarre twists and turns, with Santos and his chief of staff, Charley Lovett, frequently venturing off topic. The conversation begins with Santos admiring Myers’s tie, to which Myers responds, “You can have it if you want,” adding that he buys ties at thrift stores for $2 — a fact that Santos alludes to at a later point in the conversation.

Santos then asks for candy, which he claims his father brought from Brazil, and shares some with Myers, who asks whether he’s going to be fired.

The response from Santos — who had been commenting about the taste of the candy — was garbled at first, but the congressman allows Myers to tell his side of the story.

Myers then claims that he was covering a local Ohio murder trial, but left the country halfway through the trial to travel to Colombia for Botox injections. He says the $100 procedure is $400 in the United States. “I spend a lot more than that on Botox, but I trust the people,” Santos replies.

Myers continues to explain how he came to be charged with wiretapping, when Santos interrupts him. “It’s not concerning to us, it’s concerning to this institution,” the congressman says.

Myers later told Talking Points Memo that he was stunned by the congressman’s hypocrisy — particularly since he’s been under scrutiny for fabricating his biography and significant parts of his resumé.

“I’m thinking to myself, I’m a threat and concern to this institution — George Santos, you’re George Santos!” Myers told the liberal news website.

Santos also offers his thoughts on “trust,” telling Myers he’s made “bad judgment calls,” and reaped the consequences of them.

“I’ve obviously fucked up and lied to him, like I lied to everyone else,” Santos says at one point, apparently referring to Lovett, his chief of staff. “And he still forgave me and gave me a second shot, unlike some other people.”

Santos ultimately does not decide whether to rescind the offer of employment, but appears to be leaning in the direction of doing so, telling Myers, “It’s bad enough that I have to answer for myself these days, I don’t want to have to answer, prospectively, for you.”

Myers told Talking Points Memo that Lovett formally rescinded the employment offer in a follow-up phone call the next day. Lovett said the final decision was primarily motivated by concerns over the wiretapping case.

In a bit of irony, at one point during the meeting, Santos and Lovett joke that Myers might be recording the conversation, to which Santos falsely claimed that covertly taping him would lead to a 7-year prison sentence for Myers.

“From my understanding, recording in this building is a federal crime, and you get seven years,” Santos says. “Have fun at your peril!”

Santos also offers some final advice to Myers before they part ways: “Stop going to Colombia for your diluted Botox.”

The audio recording does not contain any mention of the alleged sexual harassment.

Myers also acknowledged to CNN that he has no corroborating evidence to back up his sexual harassment claims. “It’s simply going to be his word against mine,” he said to the cable news outlet.

The accusation is yet another twist in the soap opera storyline enveloping Santos, who has been called on to resign from Congress after purportedly lying about his employment history, his ancestry, his educational background, his health history, and his personal or familial connections to major U.S. tragedies like the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Pulse nightclub massacre. 

Most recently, Santos announced he would be recusing himself from committee assignments until all ongoing investigations against him have been resolved.

The congressman already faces a separate ethics complaint, filed by two congressional Democrats, requesting that the committee investigate his financial disclosures and campaign finance filings. He also faces at least two separate investigations by local and federal authorities looking into those same issues. 

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!