George Santos bail backers will be revealed Thursday, judge orders

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U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) speaks to the media as he leaves Central Islip Federal Courthouse in Central Islip, New York, May 10, 2023.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

The identities of the people who guaranteed Rep. George Santos’ $500,000 bond in his criminal fraud case will be revealed Thursday at noon ET, a federal judge ordered Tuesday.

Judge Joanna Seybert’s order in U.S. District Court in Long Island came less than two weeks after the Republican lawmaker’s attorney argued that the bail backers’ identities should be kept private because of the “media frenzy” surrounding the case.

Other sealed documents in the case, including Seybert’s full written order, are also scheduled to be unsealed Thursday, according to a docket entry in Santos’ case.

Santos’ lawyer, Joseph Murray, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the judge’s order.

Santos, 34, pleaded not guilty last month to charges of defrauding his campaign supporters, lying to obtain unemployment money and making false statements on his congressional disclosure forms. After his initial court appearance, Santos was released on a $500,000 bond backed by multiple guarantors, whose names were kept under seal.

Multiple news outlets asked the court to release those names, arguing that the public had a right to know their identities. The New York Times contended the substantial bail figure “presents an obvious opportunity for political influence,” especially because the charges against Santos “involve abusing the political process for personal gain.”

A magistrate judge in the case sided with the news outlets earlier this month but gave Santos time to appeal the decision. Three days later, Murray asked for that order to be reversed, arguing the guarantors would be subject to “attacks and harassment” if their identities were to be made public.

“These attacks have been extremely angry, anti-gay, anti-Republican and all around antisocial,” Murray wrote.

The heated climate already contributed to one of the three guarantors “having a change of heart and withdrawing,” Murray wrote, adding that the other two will likely follow suit if their identities are released.

Seybert’s order Tuesday noted the soon-to-be-unsealed documents will be kept under wraps until Thursday at noon ET, “during which time Defendant may move to modify the conditions of his release, should the Suretors seek to withdraw from serving as suretors.”

Santos, who took office under a cloud of scandal in January, is the Republican Party’s first openly gay representative elected to Congress. He has vowed not to resign and is currently seeking reelection in 2024.

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