A pair of Democratic congressman have introduced a bill aimed at fining and punishing candidates for political office who lie about their résumés or biographies.
U.S. Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) have introduced the “Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker” Act, or SANTOS Act, named after Republican New York Congressman George Santos, who has come under scrutiny after some of the claims he made — on the campaign trail, on his website, and on his résumé — were found to have been exaggerated or to be outright fabrications, according to an exposé in The New York Times last month.
Santos has been accused of embellishing parts of his biography, including his work history and his family background, including a disproven claim that he was the descendant of Jewish refugees who fled persecution in Europe just prior to World War II.
Santos allegedly claimed to have worked for Wall Street giants Citigroup and Goldman Sachs; to have attended Baruch College, won a championship as part of the school’s volleyball team while there, and graduated in the top 1% of his class, with a 3.89 grade-point average; to have been one of the first people in New York State to be diagnosed with COVID-19; to have been a landlord who lost money due to pandemic-era moratoria on evictions; and to have created an animal rescue charity, which was never registered with New York State as a nonprofit organization.
As a result of his embellishments, as well as questions regarding his finances, source of income, and statements made on his financial disclosure statements that appear to show a rapid accumulation of wealth during the time in between his 2020 and 2022 campaigns, Santos currently faces a formal ethics complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, and two separate investigations — one by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, and the other by the Republican district attorney for Nassau County — looking into his finances and financial disclosures.
In addition to their bill, Torres and Goldman also previously filed an ethics complaint against Santos, demanding an investigation into allegation that the Republican freshman congressman may have violated federal law by failing to file “timely, accurate and complete” financial disclosures, according to Axios.
The SANTOS Act, as introduced, would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require any candidate for Congress to file additional information about their educational background, military service, if any, and employment history. Any candidate found to have violated the law could be fined $100,000, imprisoned for up to a year, or both.
The act would take effect immediately upon being signed into law and would apply to all federal elections held on or after that day.
“I am appalled at the level to which George Santos has purposefully and continually lied to the American public about every facet of his professional and personal life,” Torres said in a statement touting the bill. “His deception is a stain on our Democratic process and threatens to corrupt the very institution in which I am deeply humbled and proud to serve. We must work to ensure that our elected leaders are being truthful and transparent with voters, and I remain as committed as ever to doing just that.”
“The web of lies George Santos used to defraud his voters is a threat to our free and fair elections, and we have an obligation to ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” Goldman said in a statement. “His entire candidacy for Congress was predicated on a campaign of disinformation designed to deceive the voters.
“Santos lied about this entire biography and resume, including religion, family history, education, and professional experience,” Goldman said. “I am proud to join my fellow New York Congressman Ritchie Torres to introduce this critical piece of legislation to safeguard the democratic process.”
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