- An associate of Republican Rep. George Santos fretted about the congressman being made into a bobblehead.
- The private anxiety came to light among pages of text messages released by a House committee.
- It is a lighter moment in a damning report about Santos’ conduct.
Aides hurried to respond to the chaos that engulfed Republican Rep. George Santos’ early days in office.
One of the lighter moments in the damning House Ethics Committee report on Santos concerns an associate of Santos’ fretting with a congressional staffer over a bobblehead.
The bobblehead depicted the newly-elected congressman with a Pinocchio nose shortly after it the revelation of bombshell reports that he lied and embellished his life story during his effort to get elected to Congress.
“This company is starting to sell bobble heads with his name, one is a regular bobble head, and the other has a Pinocchio nose. We should file an emergency trademark with the name to protect it,” one aide wrote to another.
It’s not definitively clear who wrote and received the text messages — the committee’s screenshots simply label the conversation as occurring between “Witness 1” and “Staffer 1.” Other parts of the report reference additional individuals whose text messages were obtained.
Context clues from the released screenshots, however, suggest the messages were between Derek Myers, a former aide to Santos, and Vish Burra, Santos’ operations director.
After the report’s publication, Santos announced that he would not seek reelection to Congress next year. The New Yorker has repeatedly vowed he will remain in office despite facing multiple federal charges, including fraud related to his 2022 election. He has become so embattled that election pundits have predicted Democrats would have a major advantage if he were to run again.
“If there was a single ounce of ETHICS in the “Ethics committee”, they would have not released this biased report,” Santos wrote on Twitter. “The Committee went to extraordinary lengths to smear myself and my legal team about me not being forthcoming (My legal bills suggest otherwise). “
Interestingly, the staffer gets at the history of disputes the nation’s political figures have had with merchants eager to cash in on their image. The First Amendment likely protects most of the parody merchandise, including the Pinocchio nose bobblehead. Other areas can be less clear. Then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film production company filed suit in 2004 over a bobblehead that depicted him with ” a gray suit and a bandoleer and brandishing an assault rifle,” according to The New York Times. The two sides later settled.
Usually, the disputes feature US presidents, as Mother Jones once detailed. It’s extremely rare to see a freshman lawmaker garner national recognition like Santos has. But then again, there has never been a lawmaker like Santos in recent memory.
And yes, if you want to, you can still buy a Santos bobblehead from the same company that has made ones depicting Anthony Fauci and Sen. Bernie Sanders sitting at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
According to the listing for the Santos bobbleheads, $5 from each one sold is donated to a “dog-focused GoFundMe campaign,” likely in reference to an allegation made against the congressman that he pocketed thousands from a dying dog’s GoFundMe page.