Elected officials, Common Cause/NY Rally in Support of Santos Inspired Campaign Bill
CommonCause/NY joins state lawmakers outside of office of disgraced former Congressman to call for more transparent candidate disclosures
QUEENS, NY (12/08/2023) (readMedia)-- Today, Assembly Member Gina Sillitti, Senator John Liu and Common Cause/NY in support of new legislation that will strengthen New York's candidate disclosure laws by requiring candidates to make sworn statements under penalty of perjury about parts of their background.
The rally took place outside the Queens Congressional office of former NY Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from Congress last week for lying about key elements of his background to voters. Mr. Santos was first elected to New York's 3rd Congressional District in 2022, which prompted scrutiny over the false claims he made about his employment history, education, and heritage throughout his campaign.
The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti and State Senator John Liu would specifically require any candidate running in New York State for any elected office to sign a sworn statement affirming their military service, if any; portions of their employment history; their current residence and that they meet the residency requirements of the office for which they are running; and any portion of their educational record they tout to voters.
"As we all know, George Santos lied about every aspect of his résumé while running for office, and in doing so, not only destroyed the public's trust in our political system but also left us effectively without any representation in Congress for nearly a year. This can't happen again. That's why I've been working with Senator Liu and Common Cause to craft legislation that will help restore the voters' trust in the political process and ensure candidates are held accountable for their statements on the campaign trail," said Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti.
"It is imperative for our democracy that the George Santos brand of politics ends with his expulsion from Congress. Candidates for elected office are applying for a job just like anyone else, but George Santos fantasized that his position gave him license to lie, cheat and defraud the American people like a common scam artist. Our legislation makes a bold statement that words matter and the public deserves the right to trust the authenticity of those who seek to represent them," said State Senator John Liu.
"Former Congressman Santos' deceitful actions throughout his campaign were repugnant and unacceptable. While I am pleased Congress expelled him, we must take action to safeguard against fraudulent candidates moving forward. This legislation will help ensure New Yorkers know the truth about who they are voting for when they cast their ballots for representation," said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.
"Voters expect – at the very least – the people running to represent them are who they say they are. That's why Senator Liu and Assembly Member Sillitti's newly revised bill is important: it raises the accountability bar for candidates and makes it harder for candidates who lack integrity– like Mr. Santos – to defraud New York voters. We're hopeful lawmakers will pass this bill swiftly come January so no future candidate bamboozles the public again," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
Under the proposed legislation, sworn statements would be posted to the candidates' respective Board of Elections' website fifteen days after they submit petitions or other documentation to be placed on the ballot, ensuring that members of the public and the press have ample opportunity to research the veracity of the candidate's statements prior to Election Day. If the candidate fails to provide the required statement, that fact would be posted along with the sworn statements of other candidates.
Failure to file the statement would also carry a penalty of up to $1,000, with additional penalties of $25 per day, up to a maximum of $1,000 for each additional day the statement is not filed. The bill requires that any monetary penalties cannot be paid out of campaign funds.