Why the George Santos saga is 'a wake-up call' for American politics: columnist
Following Rep. George Santos' (R-NY) 13 criminal indictments from the Department of Justice earlier this week, critics are questioning how political candidates who allegedly committed multiple federal crimes manage to rise to such high positions.
The right-wing lawmaker faces charges due to "allegations of fraud, dishonesty, and alleged illegal practices prior to and during his campaign for Congress in 2022," and is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
The Daily Beast senior columnist and conservative, Matt Lewis, raised this question in an op-ed published Wednesday, suggesting the reasons Santos' indictments should serve as a "wake-up call" for American democracy in order to prevent "more Santos'" in the future.
READ MORE: George Santos indicted by the Justice Department: report
The columnist notes the extremity of three out of the 13 indictments Santos received, including the fact the congressman allegedly utilized campaign "money as his personal piggy bank; fraudulently received unemployment insurance, and allegedly lied about it on his financial disclosure forms."
The question for today is this: How did Santos, aka 'Anthony Devolder'—a guy with no resume but two names—get away with such a breathtaking level of flagrant graft that seemed almost certain to fall apart (indeed, he was outed before even being sworn-in as a congressman) long enough to win election to a district that includes parts of New York City and its immediate suburbs.
Furthermore, he suggests two reasons for why the lawmaker has succeeded despite his wrongdoing.
First, Lewis blames the Democrats lack of "focus on Santos' obvious vulnerabilities," and second, he points to the "obliteration of local news," insisting "unless we can find some way to reignite the kind of vigorous reporting and local news coverage that holds politicians accountable before they get elected, there will be more Santos' to come."
READ MORE: George Santos' latest FEC filing an 'indecipherable mess': report
To support his theory, the author of Filthy Rich Politiciansmentions the work of Long Island's The North Shore Leader, which expose in 2022 the fact that the lawmaker's "personal finance disclosure report showed 'an inexplicable rise in his alleged net worth to $11 million.'"
Lewis attributes Santos' ability to campaign beyond the local publication's findings to the fact top news outlets "simply can't report on every local story."
The writer adds despite Santo's democratic opponent Robert Zimmerman's December 2022 interview with The Washington Post, in which he mentioned Santos' "red flags," the former candidate noted "a lot of folks in the media are saying they didn't have the personnel, time or money to delve further into the story."
Zimmerman concluded, "This experience has shown me just how important it is for everyone to support local media."
READ MORE: George Santos surrenders to federal authorities
Matt Lewis' full column is available at this link (subscription required).
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