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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Santos misses another deadline to submit key financial disclosure report

U.S. Rep. George Santos on Wednesday missed another deadline to submit a key financial disclosure report, a months-long delay the embattled New York Republican blamed on his federal taxes and the desire to avoid a “rushed job.”

The disclosures, which are filed with the House Committee on Ethics, provide a public snapshot of a representative’s personal finances. They’re meant to serve as a bulwark against potential conflicts of interest.

In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, Santos acknowledged being tardy but said he would “rather be late, accurate, and pay the fine than be on time, inaccurate, and suffer the consequences of a rushed job.”

Santos, who gained infamy for fabricating big parts of his life story while running for office, is facing a 13-count federal indictment centered on charges of money laundering and lying to Congress in an earlier financial disclosure.

It still isn’t completely clear how he made his living prior to being elected. He described himself as a Wall Street dealmaker who also made money in real estate, but he didn’t work for the companies he claimed had employed him and he’d been evicted from some apartments for not paying rent. More recently, he said he made money helping wealthy people buy luxury items, like yachts, but he hasn’t provided details.

Prior misses

He received a 90-day extension for the House financial disclosure in May, then missed the due date in August. At the time, he said he planned to file the disclosure within a 30-day grace period permitted by the federal government.

That period elapsed Wednesday, with Santos saying he had no plans to file until submitting his federal tax returns from last year.

“Despite my legal team’s and my best efforts to meet the deadlines, additional auditing and tax filing for 2022 remained,” he said. “I still have until November 2023 to submit my 2022 taxes with the IRS in order to avoid legal troubles.”

“Because House filing deadlines conflict with IRS regulations, this misalignment exists,” he added.

Watchdog dismisses Santos’ explanation

Stephen Spaulding, the vice president of policy at Common Cause, a watchdog group, described Santos’ reasoning as “nonsensical,” noting there was no reason that his federal tax obligations should prevent him from filing the necessary disclosure.

“He is thumbing his nose at transparency requirements, his constituents and the public,” Spaulding said. “All the more reason to strengthen these penalties.”

Under federal law, members of Congress are punished with only a $200 late fee for missing the filing deadline. Those who don’t file at all, or knowingly falsify their statements, may face a civil penalty up to $71,316.

While it’s not uncommon for representatives to file their disclosures late, few of them blow past the extended deadlines, according to Spaulding.

“Everyone else seems to know how to comply with this,” he said. “It’s not onerous.”

Santos is due back in court in his criminal case in October.

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