Senator Newman Introduces Bill in Response to George Santos Controversy
Sacramento, Calif.— State Senator Josh Newman introduced legislation today requiring candidates running for office in California to submit their prior education, military experience and work history to the Secretary of State at the time of filing. As a result, this bill will create a straightforward basis for holding candidates accountable for the willful misrepresentation of their background or professional qualifications. SB 248, the Disqualifying Unscrupulous and Pathological Electeds (or DUPE) Act, comes in response to the recent scandal involving New York Congressman George Santos, who since being elected in November has been caught lying about nearly every aspect of his personal and professional history over the course of his political campaign.
“The ongoing drama around newly elected congressman and sociopathic fabulist George Santos should be viewed as a cautionary tale,” said Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). “By requiring candidates to provide and attest to basic, foundational biographical information, SB 248 will ensure that California voters don’t get duped by frauds or imposters running for elective office.”
Shortly after Santos’s election in November of 2022, he was exposed for having made a stunning number of false claims, to include having lied about his residency, his income and assets, his educational background, his experience working for high-profile Wall Street firms and much more.
“Had George Santos been hired for a position in private industry or included that information on an application for a loan, he could have expected to be summarily fired and possibly prosecuted,” said Senator Newman. “Surprisingly, though, for not only members of Congress but elected officials at all levels here in California, no basis for similar such recourse exists. Meanwhile, the Santos drama continues to messily unfold, at the expense of not only his constituents but faith in the democratic process overall.”
Candidates standing for elective office in California are currently required to complete various forms that attest to basic information such as their full legal name, street address, the office they intend to run for and their political party preference, as well as to provide disclosures about their personal income and assets. Unlike most typical job applications, however, candidates are not obligated to formally provide any information about their prior professional experience.
SB 248 would close this gaping hole in accountability by requiring that all candidates running for public office submit a summary of their prior employment, education and military experience no later than the final filing date for a declaration of candidacy. Under the provisions of the DUPE Act, candidates submitting such information would also be required to attest, under penalty of disqualification and subsequent removal, as well as possible criminal prosecution as a misdemeanor offense under the Political Reform Act, that the information being provided is accurate and true to the best of their knowledge.
“Running for election is, at its most basic level, another version of applying for a job, albeit one where the hiring decision is made by the voters of a given jurisdiction,” said Newman. “If someone is found to have obtained elective office under demonstrably false pretenses, it seems more than reasonable that they should be subject to disqualification and other prospective punishments.”
Under the provisions of SB 248, the Secretary of State’s office will be charged with creating and implementing this form by April 1, 2024, and this information will be made publicly available to voters for at least four years after the filing date for a particular election.
With public trust in politics already at all-time lows, the DUPE Act will provide voters the assurance of appropriate and effective recourse in the event that a candidate wins an election based on credentials that later turn out to have been falsified.
To schedule an interview with Senator Newman, contact Lizzie Cootsona at 916.651.4029.
State Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which is comprised of portions of Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County. The 29th District includes all or parts of the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, City of Industry, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Stanton, Walnut, West Covina and Yorba Linda. Senator Newman is a former United States Army officer, businessperson, and veterans’ advocate, and lives in Fullerton with his wife and daughter.