Kyrsten Sinema Denies Offering George Santos Words of Encouragement

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has denied a claim by embattled New York Representative George Santos that she offered him words of encouragement during the State of the Union address.

Santos said in an interview with Newsmax on Thursday evening that Sinema, an independent, told him "something to the effect of 'hang in there, buddy,' or something like that."

However, Sinema's spokesperson told Newsweek on Friday: "This did not happen and is not true."

Santos has faced repeated calls to resign from his freshman position in Congress after a series of scandals since he was elected in November's midterm. The Long Island Republican is accused of violating campaign finance laws, was discovered to have lied about large parts of his resume and faces a sexual assault allegation from a former volunteer working at his congressional office.

Santos Seems to Make Friends with Sinema
Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, left, applauds during President Joe Biden's State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. New York Representative George Santos, right, waits for Biden's address. Santos on Thursday said in an interview that he has found Sinema to be "kindhearted," and that she offered him words of encouragement during Biden's speech. Win McNamee/Getty Images

During the congressman's interview with Newsmax host Greg Kelly on Thursday, Kelly questioned Santos on his recent tiff with Utah Senator Mitt Romney during President Joe Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate, reportedly told Santos, "you don't belong here," while he was attempting to mingle with other members of Congress before Biden's arrival.

While Romney has said that he didn't hear what Santos said in response to his flak, the New York representative told Newsmax on Thursday that he shot back at Romney, saying that he was "not meant for television."

"But I can tell you one thing, he did hear me," Santos added.

According to Santos' recollection of the incident, Sinema passed by him around the same time Romney spoke out, and "said something to the effect of 'hang in there, buddy,' or something like that."

"I said, 'Thank you, thank you, Madam Senator," Santos continued to Kelly. "She was very polite, very kindhearted as I've learned to see her."

"She's a good person, unlike Mr. Romney, who thinks he's above it all and is an all-mighty white horse trying to talk to us down on morality," he added.

A video later tweeted on Friday by NBC reporter Julie Tsirkin appeared to show Santos and Sinema having a brief exchange, but said that Sinema's spokesperson denied this, and that she was instead talking to "folks on the aisle she used to serve with."

Sinema, who has served as Arizona senator since 2019, announced in December that she was leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent. Her departure sparked outrage online, especially after she was pictured dining with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California.

The Arizona senator has one of the lowest approval ratings in Congress, according to a poll published in January by Morning Consultant, which found that 50 percent of Arizona voters disapprove of Sinema's job performance after she switched parties.

The same poll found Sinema did see a spike in approval from independent voters, rising from 29 percent before leaving the Democratic Party to 42 percent afterward.

Santos has faced calls to resign from office across both political parties, including from Republican leaders in his own district. A Siena College poll published in January found that 59 percent of voters believe he should step down due to the scandals.

Update, 2/10/23, 1.15 p.m. ET: This article and its headline were updated to include a denial from Kyrsten Sinema's office that she had spoken to George Santos.