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FEC orders Santos to formally declare his 2024 candidacy or ‘disavow’ post-midterm fundraising

<i>Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters</i><br/>The Federal Election Commission orders Rep. George Santos to formally declare his 2024 candidacy. Santos is pictured here last month in Washington
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
The Federal Election Commission orders Rep. George Santos to formally declare his 2024 candidacy. Santos is pictured here last month in Washington

By Andrea Cambron, David Wright and Gregory Krieg, CNN

The Federal Election Commission is asking New York Rep. George Santos to declare whether he plans to run again in 2024 after the Long Island Republican crossed a post-election fundraising threshold that now requires him to make a formal declaration.

In a letter to Santos, the FEC says he has until March 14 to “either disavow these (fundraising and spending) activities by notifying the Commission in writing that you are not a candidate, or redesignate your principal campaign committee by filing a Statement of Candidacy.”

According to an FEC review of Santos’ filings, his campaign committee “has no debts from the previous election cycle and has accepted contributions and/or made expenditures in support of your 2024 candidacy in excess of $5,000, thus meeting the definition of ‘candidate’ per Federal Election Campaign Laws.”

This new round of scrutiny comes as the embattled freshman is expected to face an investigation by the House Ethics Committee, which could further imperil his chaotic political career. Santos’ congressional tenure thus far has been dominated by questions about his repeated fabrications about his background and resume. The FEC letter marks his latest brush with the commission, which has flagged issues with some of his previous campaign finance reports, including questions about loans, expenditures and officials listed on filings.

Were Santos to confirm he plans to seek reelection, what has become a headache for national and local Republicans will likely intensify. He has already been disavowed by the Nassau County GOP, which is facing backlash following his election after two years of hard-fought local gains. A handful of Republican members from the state’s House delegation have also called on Santos to resign. Back home, the picture is even more bleak, with 78% of voters — including more than 7 in 10 Republicans — in his 3rd Congressional District saying he should resign, according to a recent Newsday/Siena College poll.

The FEC requires any individual who has raised or spent more than $5,000 on a campaign for federal office to register as a candidate within 15 days of reaching that mark. Any such candidate, including incumbents like Santos, must file a statement of candidacy with the commission each electoral cycle.

Santos’ FEC filings show that he’s raised and spent tens of thousands of dollars since the midterms, easily triggering the commission’s requirement for a statement of candidacy. Most incumbents promptly file statements of candidacy for the following cycle even if they don’t intend to run, to avoid running afoul of FEC rules.

But the scandal surrounding Santos has added additional weight to the formality.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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