Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters after a vote to send a resolution to the Ethics panel in an attempt to expel him from the House, on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Washington, DC.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
The identities of the three people who guaranteed Rep. George Santos’ $500,000 bond in his criminal fraud case must be revealed, a federal magistrate judge ordered Tuesday.
But Santos, the embattled freshman Republican lawmaker from New York who was charged last month with an array of financial crimes, has until noon on Friday to appeal the decision, Magistrate Judge Anne Shields ordered.
Santos, 34, has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding his campaign supporters, lying to obtain unemployment money and making false statements on his congressional disclosure forms.
He has vowed not to resign, even as a growing chorus of his own Republican colleagues have urged him to step down. Those calls began even before Santos took office in January, after The New York Times published a bombshell report questioning key details of the biography that Santos had presented on the campaign trail.
Santos admitted lying about his professional background and education, but he has denied other wrongdoing and pushed back on subsequent damning reporting about his business activities.
Santos’ lawyer, Joseph Murray, had asked the court Monday to deny requests from multiple news outlets to unseal the names of the bond guarantors, arguing there were fears over their “health, safety and well being.”
“My client would rather surrender to pretrial detainment than subject these suretors to what will inevitably come,” Murray wrote in a court filing.
Murray did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the latest court order.
The judge’s decision was filed under seal in order to allow Santos to file his appeal.
The Times argued last month in U.S. District Court on Long Island that the public should be able to access the bond proceedings in Santos’ case. Lawyers for the newspaper noted that three yet-to-be-identified people committed large sums of money to ensure Santos stays free, a situation that “presents an obvious opportunity for political influence” over an elected official.
“That risk is further heightened by the fact that the very crimes Rep. Santos has been charged with involve abusing the political process for personal gain,” lawyers for the Times noted.
A consortium of other news outlets, including NBC News, joined the Times’ call two days later, arguing the First Amendment and common law granted the public’s right to know the suretors’ identities.