The Republican congressman and serial fabulist George Santos has until Friday to appeal an order to reveal the identities of three people who guaranteed his $500,000 bond on fraud charges, a New York judge said on Tuesday.
A lawyer for Santos had said identification of the guarantors would imperil their “health, safety and wellbeing”, and claimed the New York congressman would rather go to prison than reveal the names.
“My client would rather surrender to pre-trial detainment than subject these suretors to what will inevitably come,” the lawyer, Joseph Murray, wrote to the judge on Monday.
At his arraignment in Long Island last month, Santos, 34, pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements.
After entering his plea, Santos told reporters: “It’s a witch-hunt. I’m going to fight my battle, I’m going to fight the witch-hunt, I’m going to take care of clearing my name.”
The New York Times sought the identification of Santos’s bail guarantors, arguing they should be identified as they had a chance to exert political influence over a congressman. Other news outlets joined the Times in its effort.
On Tuesday, Santos did not immediately comment.
Last month, House Republicans deflected a Democratic motion to expel Santos from Congress, referring his case to the ethics committee.
Only five members of Congress have ever been expelled from the House: three for fighting against the Union in the civil war and two over convictions for fraud.
Santos has admitted “embellishing” a résumé that was ripped apart after he won his seat in Congress last November, even his real name being brought into question.
After winning a New York district previously held by a Democrat, Santos became a key figure in Republicans’ slim House majority. In January, he backed the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, through 15 rounds of voting to secure the position.
Santos has repeatedly said he will not resign, and is running for re-election next year.