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U.S. Rep. George Santos hit with additional federal charges of conspiracy, fraud

The embattled GOP congressman is now facing 23 counts in federal court, following a seedy 2022 campaign that has brought bipartisan condemnation.

U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York leaves a GOP candidate forum on October 10 in Washington, shortly after new charges were filed against him in federal court. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep George Santos of New York has been hit with 10 additional criminal counts concerning his controversial 2022 House election campaign, bringing the total count to 23 against the freshman GOP congressman.

Federal prosecutors announced the new charges on Tuesday, noting the new indictment supersedes the previous, filed in district court in May. 

Santos has now been charged with one count of conspiracy, nine counts of wire fraud, four counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission, two counts of falsifying records, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud, one count of theft of public funds, and three counts of money laundering.

“Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace concerning the new charges.  

“This Office will relentlessly pursue criminal charges against anyone who uses the electoral process as an opportunity to defraud the public and our government institutions.”

Santos has faced heavy, bipartisan scrutiny since late December, when the New York Times reported discrepancies in his net worth, as well as various false statements he made about his background during his campaign. The story had first been reported in the North Shore Leader before Santos triumphed over his Democratic opponent in New York’s 3rd congressional district.

The embattled 35-year-old political upstart—a self-proclaimed Afro-Latino Catholic openly identified with the LGBTQ+ community but who ran on a hard-right platform—previously campaigned unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2020.

After his election, which helped Republicans gain a majority in the House, Santos was appointed to—and later resigned from—his committee assignments.

Following the media’s revelation of Santos’ improprieties, federal prosecutors announced an investigation into Santos in December, following a separate probe initiated by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The Nassau County district attorney announced its own investigation the next month. Two of his former campaign fundraisers have since been indicted on federal charges of fraud.

Santos was arrested in May following his first indictment, but while out on bail has remained defiant amid calls to resign. These have come both from opponents as well as some of his GOP colleagues—including several neighboring congressmen in New York.

Formerly one of his most powerful supporters, erstwhile House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted from office earlier this month, leaving open the possibility that his successor could move to unseat Santos in the coming weeks. An ethics probe initiated by McCarthy has yet to release a public report, and it is unclear when or if such a release is forthcoming.

Santos recently announced plans to run for re-election in 2024, and on Tuesday spoke with reporters concerning the new indictment. He denied the charges against him while exiting a party candidate forum for McCarthy's replacement, before entering his own congressional office and slamming the door.

Santos is due to return to court concerning the charges on October 27.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

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