Democrat Jon Ossoff is running for one of two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs in the Georgia runoffs on January 5. Should he and his comrade, Rev. Raphael Warnock, defeat Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, they will create a 50-50 deadlock in the Senate, giving Democrats control on President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
Ossoff is something of an enigma, having never held public office — though not for lack of trying. He would also be one of the youngest people ever elected to the U.S. Senate, with the least experience, and a litany of potentially compromising problems.
Here are seven key facts about Ossoff:
1. He inherited a fortune from his grandfather. The Washington Post noted recently that Ossoff “has declined to say how much he inherited from his grandfather, who was co-owner of a Massachusetts leather factory.” Whatever the amount, it was enough for Ossoff to lend $250,000 to a friend’s company in London. His net worth is estimated as up to $8.8 million. And while Ossoff has attacked Perdue for trading stocks while in Congress (legally), Ossoff has not released his own tax returns.
2. He inflated his resumé, claiming more national security credentials than he actually had. In 2017, Ossoff claimed: “I’ve got five years of experience as a national security staffer in the U.S. Congress.” Politifact investigated that claim and found that it was only half-true. Two of those years were part-time work while he was a student. While Ossoff claimed he had security clearance, that was only true for a few months. One expert described Ossoff as committing “resumé inflation.”
3. His company, Insight TWI, worked with Al Jazeera and a Hong Kong distributor partly owned by a company linked to the Chinese Communist Party. Ossoff’s company “received around $1,000 through a distributor for two investigations it made on Islamic State war crimes that were rebroadcast by PCCW in Hong Kong. PCCW has financial ties to the Chinese government,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Ossoff initially failed to disclose the payment.
4. He has refused to release his tax returns. Though Democrats have complained for years about President Donald Trump not releasing his tax returns, Ossoff refuses to release his own. The Washington Post reported: “Ossoff has declined to say how much he inherited [from his grandfather], and he has not released his tax returns.” Ironically, Ossoff and his party are running on the idea that he represents a change from the financial self-dealing and opacity of Washington politicians.
5. He is running on a promise to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. As Breitbart News reported, Ossoff offered amnesty to those “who otherwise follow the law” at a recent “Latin Meet & Greet.” He said: “I will work to pass comprehensive immigration reform that establishes a path to legal status for those who lack documentation and otherwise follow the law.” He also said that “Dreamers” — illegal aliens who came the U.S. as minors — “are every bit as American as any of us.”
6. He lost a 2017 race for Congress, the most expensive in history. In 2017, Ossoff ran against Republican Karen Handel in a special election to represent Georgia’s 6th congressional district in suburban Atlanta. Thanks to help from Hollywood, Ossoff raised four times as much as Handel in what remains the most expensive House race in history. But the fresh-faced millennial did not actually live in the district. That did not disqualify him, but it hurt his chances and he went down to defeat.
7. He welcomed support from Bernie Sanders in 2020, after running as a moderate in 2017. Sanders, the “democratic socialist” from Vermont, endorsed Ossoff — and Ossoff told CNN that he “welcome[d]” his support, praising Sanders for “for putting the interests of working families over corporate interests.” But in 2017, Ossoff campaigned as a moderate when he ran for Congress. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted Ossoff’s shift as a sign that Georgia Democrats are moving left.
8. He would support new shutdowns of the economy. Ossoff told CNN in November that he would support a renewed shutdown of Georgia’s economy if recommended by “experts” to control the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s time to trust the experts,” he said. Georgia is currently experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, similar to that experienced in many other states. Earlier this year, it was one of the first states to reopen its economy as the initial surge in cases began to subside.
9. He wants to ban semi-automatic rifles and require licenses for handguns. Ossoff is taking a hard line on gun control, demanding a ban on semi-automatic rifles, which he labels “assault weapons,” and requiring licenses even for ordinary handguns. ““For semiautomatic weapons, whether they are rifles or handguns, we need strict licensing requirements,” he told MSNBC last year. Nearly half of Georgia residents live in homes where a member of the household owns a firearm.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.