Santos Pleads Not Guilty to New Campaign Finance Charges

(Bloomberg) -- US Representative George Santos, who allegedly fabricated much of his life story before he was elected to Congress, pleaded not guilty to the latest charges filed against him by federal prosecutors.

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The embattled New York Republican has steadfastly denied wrongdoing since he was first indicted in May for campaign finance violations. He appeared in federal court Friday on Long Island to answer to 10 additional charges filed this month accusing him of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and running up unauthorized expenses on his campaign contributors’ credit cards.

US District Judge Joanna Seybert set the trial to start Sept. 9, but said she’d move it up if there’s an opening on her schedule. Prosecutor Ryan Harris said he hoped for an earlier date “given that the defendant is a member of Congress and the fact that these are very serious charges with a number of victims who do have an interest in a speedy trial.” Santos remains free on bail.

Even as he fights a court case that threatens to send him to prison for as long as two decades, Santos faces a vote next week by fellow lawmakers on expelling him from the House.

Read More: George Santos Faces Expulsion Vote in US House Next Week

How to deal with the first-term lawmaker’s extravagant false claims and criminal indictment is one of the first issues confronting newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson after an unprecedented three-week stretch in which the chamber was leaderless and couldn’t conduct business.

Johnson said he met with New York Republicans who want to expel Santos on Thursday — his first full day leading the chamber — and that they were “working through those issues.” But he conceded that expelling Santos from the chamber would only complicate his already difficult job.

A previous Democratic-backed attempt to expel Santos failed in May when then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy steered the resolution to the House Ethics Committee on a party-line vote. But this time, Republican members of the New York delegation are forcing the issue, signaling that there’s now bipartisan support to force out Santos.

Santos, 35, was initially charged by prosecutors in the office of Brooklyn US Attorney Breon Peace five months ago with fraud, theft of public funds, money laundering and making false statements to Congress — and pleaded not guilty.

In a revised indictment unsealed Oct. 10, Santos was charged with falsifying data to qualify for a program administered by a national party committee and with stealing personal and financial information of contributors to his campaign.

Two people connected to Santos have also been charged by the US.

Nancy Marks, who served as the treasurer for his congressional campaign committee in 2022, pleaded guilty this month, telling a judge she worked with Santos to submit false reports to the Federal Election Commission on behalf of his campaign.

Santos’s former fundraiser Samuel Miele was charged with wire fraud and identify theft for allegedly impersonating an aide to McCarthy. Miele has pleaded not guilty to the charges but his lawyers said in September that he was in possible plea talks.

Santos was elected last year to a district that includes parts of Long Island and the New York City borough of Queens, but has been dogged by allegations that he lied to voters about his education, professional experience and other parts of his background.

--With assistance from Gregory Korte.

(Updates with trial date, background on case.)

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