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Judge balks at Santos’ secrecy plea surrounding bond cosigners

Rep. George Santos appears desperate to hide the identities of his bond cosigners. A judge yesterday told him what he didn't want to hear.


After Rep. George Santos was indicted and arraigned last month, the New York Republican was released on $500,000 bond. A variety of questions soon followed, including lines of inquiry surrounding the congressman’s financial backers who helped cosign the bond.

Indeed, as we discussed yesterday, two weeks after his arrest, The New York Times asked the judge in his case for the names of Santos’ bond suretors to be unsealed, citing a “compelling public interest in maintaining the greatest transparency possible in these proceedings.” Soon after, other news organizations sought the same information.

Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the judge told the GOP lawmaker what he didn’t want to hear.

The judge overseeing the case against indicted Rep. George Santos agreed Tuesday to unseal the names of the people who put up the New York Republican’s $500,000 bond. U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields kept her order and related filings under seal, however, to give Santos until noon Friday to appeal her decision.

This comes two days after an Associated Press report cited the congressman’s lawyer saying that Santos originally lined up three responsible cosigners as suretors, but one backed out and the other two didn’t show up to his arraignment. That forced them to make “other confidential arrangements.”

Time will tell, of course, whether Santos and his defense counsel appeal the ruling and have any success, but the stakes are surprisingly high.

In fact, Santos’ lawyer also said this week that the Republican congressman was so determined to hide the names of the bond cosigners that he would, as the AP  report put it, “risk going to jail” to protect their identities.

When CNN’s Manu Raju caught up with Santos on Capitol Hill yesterday, the New Yorker seemed quite reluctant to answer questions. Asked why it’s so important to shield their identities of his financial backers, Santos would only say, “Because it is.”

Looking ahead, there are a few possible outcomes to consider.

  1. Santos might prevail on appeal, and the names will remain hidden from the public.
  2. It’s possible that the congressman was bluffing, and he’ll share his cosigners’ identities in order to remain free on bond ahead of his criminal trial.
  3. It’s also possible that Santos was serious, and he’d rather be behind bars than share the names of his bond cosigners.

I have a hunch House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is rooting against that third option — because the small House Republican majority needs Santos’ vote. Watch this space.

This post revises our related earlier coverage.