It’s Ludicrous Truth In Campaigning Bill Is Needed

Bills like Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti’s truth in campaigning legislation introduced recently in the state Assembly aren’t new.

They’ve existed in one form or another for decades. What’s changed is the need for them. We have former House Rep. George Santos to thank for that.

In December, Santos became just the sixth member in history to be expelled by fellow House colleagues, following a critical House Ethics Committee report that cited “overwhelming evidence” of lawbreaking by Santos. The North Shore Leader, a local newspaper in Santos’ former Congressional district, reported on the lies and exaggerations on Santos’ biographical information. Santos will go to court in an attempt to prove his innocence on charges including lying to Congress about his wealth, receiving unemployment benefits he didn’t deserve, and using campaign contributions to pay for personal expenses like designer clothing.

Other lies aren’t criminal, but may have swayed people into voting for a fraud like Santos.

That’s where Sillitti’s bill comes in. The Port Washington Democrat wants to amend the state Election Law to require candidates for office to say the general biographical information that they share with voters is true, including certain employment history, service records, educational accomplishments that they tout and military service records.

Sillitti proposes giving candidates 15 days to file the information with their local Board of Elections, which would then have five days to upload the information disclosed on their website. Failure to disclose would result in a $1,000 civil penalty, with an additional $25 a day for each day the disclosure is not filed. The maximum total find would be $2,000, with fines paid by the candidate and not by a campaign account.

It’s time to make it harder for hucksters like Santos to get elected by exaggerating their accomplishments. Sillitti’s bill won’t eliminate snake oil salesmen from running for office, but its penalties for not complying should make frauds like Santos think twice before running for office in New York state.

There will be partisan opposition, we’re sure, but the idea behind this bill makes a lot of sense.


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