George Santos was accused of unemployment fraud. The House may vote this week on an unemployment fraud bill that he co-sponsored.

·2 min read
Re. George Santos behind a lot of mics.
Rep. George Santos speaks to the media outside the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York, on May 10, 2023.Stefan Jeremiah)/AP
  • Rep. George Santos is being accused of stealing COVID-19 unemployment aid, among other charges.

  • In March, he co-sponsored a bill that incentivizes states to recoup money lost through unemployment fraud.

  • The House is expected to vote on the bill this week.

Among the wide range of charges Rep. George Santos faces, the New York congressman is being accused of the very crime he hoped to address when he co-sponsored a bill this March that aims to tackle unemployment fraud committed during the pandemic.

Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against the freshman Republican lawmaker on Tuesday. The indictment contains 13 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds.

According to court documents, one of the charges addresses unemployment insurance he received through the New York State Department of Labor from June 2020 to April 2021. Prosecutors alleged that Santos "falsely claimed to have been unemployed since the week of March 22, 2020" and received around $24,744 in unemployment aid despite receiving a salary of about $120,000.

In his first public statement, Santos wrote on Twitter: "WITCH HUNT!" He pleaded not guilty to all charges at a hearing on Wednesday in a Long Island federal court.

Two months before his indictment, Santos co-sponsored a bill, along with 34 Republican lawmakers, that incentivizes states to recoup money lost through COVID-19 unemployment fraud.

The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act "addresses fraud and overpayments of pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, including by providing incentives for states to investigate and recover overpayments of these benefits," the bill's summary states.

The House was expected to vote on the bill this week.

Spokespersons for Santos and Rep. Jason Smith, the lead sponsor of the bill, did not respond to a request for comment.

In March, Santos offered to co-sponsor Rep. Anthony D'Esposito's bill that prevents Congress members convicted of "financial or campaign finance fraud" from profiting off their story through means such as book deals or speeches.

His offer of support came after the congressman was reportedly being investigated by the FBI for his alleged role in a fundraising scheme for a military veteran's dying dog. Santos previously told Semfaor that the allegation was "fake."

D'Esposito previously told ABC News that Santos was "certainly an inspiration" for the bill. He and two other representatives have called to expel Santos from Congress.

Read the original article on Business Insider