Federal Magistrate Judge Anne Shields ruled Tuesday that the identities of the co-signers of U.S. Rep. George Santos’ $500,000 bail bond should be released, according to the Associated Press.
Santos’ attorney Joseph Murray Monday said in a letter to Shields that Santos “would rather surrender to pretrial detainment than subject these suretors to what will inevitably come,” the AP reported. A CNN reporter asked Santos on camera Tuesday why the names of the people who guaranteed the bonds should remain sealed.
The Nassau Republican answered, “Because it is.”
Efforts to reach Murray for further comment were unavailing.
Various news outlets, including the AP and The New York Times, called for the identities of the co-signers to be unsealed, citing a need for “the greatest transparency possible.”
Santos last month pleaded not guilty to a 13-count federal indictment, which includes seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to Congress.
Santos, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, took to Twitter following the indictment and described the probe into his personal, professional and financial background as a “witch hunt.”
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have been investigating the congressman’s campaign filings. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the top charges.
In 2022 Santos allegedly defrauded prospective political supporters and used a Queens-based political consultant to tell donors that their money would be used for his congressional campaign, officials said. A pair of unidentified donors transferred $25,000 each into an LLC controlled by Santos before those funds were transferred to Santos’ personal bank accounts, prosecutors said.
Santos allegedly used the funds for personal purchases, to withdrew cash, to transfer money to his associates and to settle personal debts, officials said.
In June 2020, officials said Santos was employed as a regional director for a Florida-based investment firm, but applied for government assistance through the New York State Department of Labor, claiming he had been unemployed since March 2020. From March 2020 to April 2021, officials said Santos received more than $24,000 in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits.
In May 2020, Santos filed two fraudulent House disclosures in connection with his unsuccessful run for Congress against former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, officials said.
In those disclosures, he allegedly overstated the income he received from a second company he worked at and did not disclose the salary he received from the Florida-based investment firm, according to officials.
In September 2022, during his most recent run for Congress, Santos falsely claimed he earned $750,000 in salary from the Devolder Organization LLC, of which he was the sole beneficial owner, received between $1 million and $5 million in dividends from the Devolder Organization LLC, had a checking account with deposits between $100,001 and $250,000 and had a savings accounts with deposits between $1 million and $5 million, according to officials.
He also failed to disclose to the House that he received around $28,000 in income from the Florida-based investment firm and more than $20,000 in unemployment benefits from the labor department, according to officials.
Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in the 3rd Congressional District election in November. He announced the launch of his re-election campaign in April, despite a lack of support from local and state GOP organizations, including the Nassau County Republican Party.
House Republicans blocked a resolution aimed at expelling Santos following the indictment, with the measure failing to pass in a 221-204 party-line vote in which all Republicans voted no. The expulsion of any member of Congress would require a two-thirds majority vote.
U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park), who represents New York’s 4th Congressional District, said he supported expelling Santos from Congress but said referring Santos to the House Ethics Committee was a more effective way to remove Santos since not enough Republicans would vote in support the resolution to expel him.
“Since we don’t yet have the needed two-thirds supermajority to expel Santos, the quickest way to rid this institution of this stain is to refer this issue to the House Ethics Committee,” D’Esposito said in a statement.
Republican officials referred the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, which has been probing Santos’ campaign and financial background since March. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said following the vote he wants the committee to “move rapidly” on the resolution.
D’Esposito has made his desire to have Santos expelled from the House to McCarthy, according to the congressman’s communications director, Matt Capp.