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Santos appeals judgment containing unsealing of bail sponsor identities

June 12, 2023: On Friday, Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., asked a federal court to rebound a judge’s order to reveal the identities of the people who secured the $500,000 bond in his criminal fraud case.

An attorney for Santos, the scandal-plagued freshman congressman who is charged with multiple economic crimes, argued that the backers’ identities should remain private due to the concerns that they will be attacked and harassed as a result of the “media frenzy” surrounding the case.

“It is submitted that the court failed to perceive the importance of the privacy issues of these sectors,” the attorney, Joseph Murray, wrote in a court filing in U.S. District Court in Long Island.

“Given the political temperature in this Country and acts of political violence that occur, the privacy interests of these sectors are far more concerning, especially considering their ages and respective employment,” Murray wrote.

Magistrate Judge Anne Shields, three days earlier, had granted requests from several news outlets that had argued that the public had a right to know the guarantors’ identities. Shields had given Santos until noon on Friday to file his appeal.

Santos, aged 34, has pleaded not guilty to defrauding his campaign supporters, lying to obtain unemployment money, and making false statements on his congressional disclosure forms. The charges follow a pile of scandals that had weighed down the congressman even before he took office in January.

He has vowed not to resign and is seeking reelection, although he previously acknowledged that he lied about his record while campaigning.

Lawyers for The New York Times had argued that the large bail amount backed by the yet-to-be-identified people “presents an obvious opportunity for political influence,” mainly because Santos “has been charged with involve abusing the political process for personal gain.”

But Murray said that “countervailing factors” support keeping the bail backers’ identities under wraps. He noted that Santos, his staff, and others had been subjected to “hateful attacks” throughout the case.

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Santos appeals judgment containing unsealing of bail sponsor identities