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Rep. George Santos says his family helped bail him out

U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) departs the U.S. Capitol after a vote on May 11 in Washington, D.C. Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York have charged Santos in a 13-count indictment.  (Win McNamee)
By Grace Ashford and Michael Gold New York Times

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., on Friday appealed a federal magistrate judge’s decision ordering the release of the names of the people who helped bail him out of federal custody, suggesting that the individuals were family members.

The identities of Santos’ guarantors have been the subject of intense interest to both the news media and the House Ethics Committee, which last month requested that Santos disclose their names so it might assess whether the $500,000 bail guarantee violated House ethics rules regarding gifts.

In papers filed Friday with the Eastern District of New York, Santos’ lawyer, Joseph Murray, argued Santos had not violated ethics rules, citing an exception for family members and implying the guarantors fell into that category.

Santos has argued that releasing the individuals’ names would subject them to attacks and harassment.

“Defendant has essentially publicly revealed that the suretors are family members and not lobbyists, donors or others seeking to exert influence over the defendant,” Murray wrote in his motion, which came days after Judge Anne Y. Shields ordered that the names be unsealed.

It remains to be seen how his appeal, before Judge Joanna Seybert, will be received.

Santos is facing 13 felony counts including money laundering and wire fraud. He has pleaded not guilty.

A group of media organizations, including the New York Times, requested last month that the identities of the people who guaranteed Santos’ bail bond be unsealed. The coalition contended that the names of those individuals were a matter of public interest, particularly given Santos’ position in Congress and the possibility that the bail arrangement could constitute an improper political gift.

In a motion filed Monday, Murray shared a response he wrote to the Ethics Committee’s questions about bail, in which he pointed to House ethics rules that permit gifts from family members. Murray said he would not oppose a targeted unsealing that would confirm to the public and to House investigators that Santos’ guarantors were family members, without fully revealing their names or exact relationships to Santos.

In his motion, Murray again said one of Santos’ initial three suretors had already dropped out amid the intense media interest, and he was at risk of losing the remaining two if their identities were released. Were that to happen, he argued, Santos “may be subject to more onerous conditions of release or may be subject to pretrial detention.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.