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George Santos has never filed any material financial disclosures. Enforcement has been lax for years.

The majority of candidates who have not filed their financial disclosures on time have otherwise not been charged with wrongdoing. But the fact that such violations are rarely reported and penalties are essentially non-existent make it easier for candidates like Santos to avoid disclosing material financial information, ethics experts say.

“The failure to properly and firmly enforce these rules has really led to ignorance,” said Meredith, a longtime ethics expert and veteran of several Washington nonprofits. McGee said.

Following the allegations against Santos, other congressmen introduced bills aimed at: prevent him from making a profit Turn off his campaign lies and tell future candidates provide accurate information about their careers. But little consideration has been given to lax enforcement of existing laws aimed at giving voters transparency.

The latest Santos Submit paperwork to re-run for re-election in 2024has faced investigations from local and federal prosecutors but has denied he broke the law and has not been charged with a crime. He said he could not legally comment on the matter.

No Deadlines, No Forms

candidate for parliament Is required Under federal law, if you raised or spent $5,000 or more for a House election, you are required to file a personal financial disclosure. For odd-numbered years, the form must be submitted by her May 15 or within 30 days after the candidate raises the amount, whichever is later, but if the candidate is fined He also has a grace period of 30 days before it is done. In election years, he must submit May 15 or 30 days before the primary. (He will be fined $200 for late filing, and more fines are possible, but rare.)

The requirement for candidates to file financial disclosures dates back to a 1978 law intended to identify conflicts of interest and prevent lawmakers from using their parliamentary offices for personal gain. increase.

Santos began fundraising for a possible 2022 campaign shortly after being defeated by then lawmakers in 2020. Tom Suozzi (DN.Y.) was required to file financial disclosures in May 2021. The form provides information about how the eventual Congressman said he had no assets in 2020, but came to report that he would be worth millions in 2022. I might have. Assuming he submitted it exactly.

However, Santos did not file financial disclosures for 2021, according to the US House Secretariat. His 2022 disclosure, too, wasn’t filed until September, months after the deadline, after the New York primary, but Santos wasn’t attracting Republican opponents.

“George Santos is an easy scapegoat for larger institutional problems that Congress has failed to address over the years,” said Washington’s senior vice president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics. Donald Sherman, co-lead attorney, said. expressed concern Regarding Santos Access to Confidential Information. “The only remaining question is, will they deal with him?”

Disclosures in the second half of 2022 and lack of disclosures in 2021 currently ethical complaint that Democrat. Dan Goldman and Richie TorresNew York, both filed lawsuits against Santos in January. voted unanimously to investigate Santos last month.

under federal lawCandidates may face civil penalties or criminal charges for personal financial disclosures if they “knowingly” fail to file on time or submit false reports. Such coercion is usually only done in the context of large-scale corruption investigations.

“They’re not going to deal with losers.”

There are many reasons why candidates are late in submitting their forms. The main reason given by the candidates was that they didn’t know the requirements. Campaign funding that triggers the need to file personal financial disclosures will be reported to the FEC. The FEC is different than a congressional office where you have to file financial documents. Navigating the barrage of forms required to run for Congress can be difficult for first-time candidates who may not have experienced staff, admits ethics experts.

Many of the candidates who did not file financial disclosures are political heavyweights who missed the election. Of his more than 30 candidates identified by POLITICO who did not meet the financial disclosure deadlines of either 2021 or 2022, the majority either lost the primaries or voted for a total of 20 points or more. I was running for election.

“Ethics committees tend to take the position that they are not going to deal with losers because their jurisdiction lies with members of Congress,” McGehee said.

But there are several candidates who have been elected to Congress for the first time, including Santos and Congressman, despite their financial information not being disclosed. Andy Ogles (R-Tennessee), failed to submit first reported On NewsChannel 5 in Nashville in January. Ogles finally submitted form Days after local news reports, more than eight months after the deadline.Ogle also face the question About the money he raised through a GoFundMe in 2014. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Ogles isn’t the only candidate to turn in the required paperwork after being scrutinized by opponents and local media. for example, Dallas Morning News reported Last October, the current member of the Diet. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) and her Republican opponent both missed financial disclosure deadlines. She filed the papers in October following an inquiry by the agency, saying she had submitted more comprehensive state financial disclosures than Congress did at the time. requirements. Texas’ early congressional primaries also complicate deadlines for candidates in the state.

When candidates fail to disclose information, voters are unable to make informed decisions, said Daniel Caputo, an ethics attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit watchdog group.

“If you don’t really know who they really are, it defeats the purpose of being able to choose your own representation,” she said. It’s part.”

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