Long Islanders react to a photo that appears to show Congressman-elect George Santos making a white-supremacist hand symbol on Friday.  Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

WASHINGTON — Incoming Rep. George Santos appeared to flash a widely known white supremacist hand sign on the floor of the U.S. House on Thursday evening, according to images captured by photojournalists.

In photos, Santos (R-Queens/Nassau) is seen raising his right hand to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to become the next speaker of the House.

With the left hand, Santos forms an “OK” sign often used by white-supremacist and other far-right groups.

A Santos aide, presented with the photo outside Santos' congressional office, refused to answer questions from Newsday about the hand gesture and shut the door in the reporter’s face when pressed for comment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate speech and hate groups, has said the sign often is used by white supremacists to showcase their affiliation, and by right-wing figures to “troll” detractors and the news media.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, deputy director of research with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, told Newsday in an email: “The OK sign is a smirk and a wink signaling to insiders support for hateful, extremist ideas — it’s about identifying with a group.”

“Like all coded and underhanded actions, it’s difficult to confirm an intention,” Carroll Rivas said when asked about the Santos photo.

“But regardless, of course the public and voters are nervous about the presence of hard-right extremists and their supporters in the halls of Congress and positions of power," Carroll Rivas said.

Santos, who says he is the son of Brazilian immigrants, has asserted he is “Jew-ish.”

He also described himself as the “son of a black man and raised in a very bi-racial family,” in a Nov. 16, 2020, Twitter post.

Santos was sworn into the House early Saturday along with other new members after McCarthy won the speakership on his 15th try.

Questions about Santos’ background continue to surface after he admitted last month he fabricated major parts of his life story — including lying about attending Baruch College and New York University and saying he worked for financial companies that have no record of his employment.

Santos on Friday avoided a small group of protesters who arrived at his congressional office to call on House Republicans not to adopt rules that would weaken ethics investigations of House members.

The protesters held up signs with Santos’ face that read: “House GOP — Don’t gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.”

When approached by one of the group’s members, Santos walked in the opposite direction, away from his office.

He circled back from a different hallway and, seeing protesters still outside his office, ducked into an elevator.

Santos entered his office about an hour later, after the protesters had disbanded.

He did not answer Newsday questions about why he did not enter his office earlier or engage with the group.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including incoming Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Amityville), have called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Santos after a New York Times investigation last month detailed major holes in his resume.

The story also raised questions about a surge in Santos’ reported income that allowed him to loan $700,000 to his campaign for the 3rd Congressional District, which covers parts of northwest Nassau County and Queens.

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