© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) is escorted by police as he leaves Central Islip Federal Courthouse in Central Islip, New York, U.S., May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Indicted U.S. Representative George Santos on Friday appealed a ruling requiring that the identities of two people who guaranteed his $500,000 bail be disclosed, saying that releasing their names could threaten their safety.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert, Santos’ lawyer Joseph Murray said the New York congressman and his staff have been subjected to a “media frenzy and hateful attacks” since news of the indictment became public on May 9.
“It is reasonable to conclude that if defendant’s suretors are identified, that the attacks and harassment will commence against them too,” Murray wrote.
The letter suggested that the guarantors are family members, not lobbyists or political donors, and that their privacy interests justified anonymity given “the political temperature in this country and acts of political violence that occur.”
Santos, 34, is appealing a June 6 ruling by a federal magistrate judge to identify his bail guarantors.
Their identities had been sought by at least 11 media organizations, which cited the public interest in their release.
Jeremy Chase, a lawyer for most of those media organizations, declined to comment.
Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the New York Times, which also sought the names, said: “The public has a right to know what is happening in this important case involving an elected official.”
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, whose office is prosecuting Santos and had not objected to identifying his guarantors, declined to comment.
Santos has expressed a willingness to go to jail rather than release the names.
The congressman has pleaded not guilty to a 13-count indictment accusing him of fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.
He has also drawn criticism, including many calls that he resign, after reports following his November election showed he had lied about much of his personal and professional background.
Santos has since admitted to fabricating large parts of his resume.