Two New York Members of Congress Criminally Charged

Not long ago, the ranks of New York elected officials included many, many individuals who had run afoul of the law or who had otherwise abused their offices. At one time, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms even kept a running list of those elected officials on our website. The list included elected officials who had left office in disgrace or had been convicted of crimes like public corruption, sexual misconduct, immigration fraud, and/or assault.

In recent years, due to the efforts of onetime U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and others, the constant stream of news about New York politicians’ legal and ethical transgressions has largely subsided. Nevertheless, two current members of New York’s congressional delegation have experienced recent legal difficulties.

Last December, Albany Update published a blog post entitled “Will The Real George Santos Please Stand Up?” In that piece, we detailed the staggering array of lies told by Republican George Santos in his successful bid for U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 3rd congressional district. In September of this year, we noted that Rep. Santos had been indicted on 13 federal charges of fraud, money laundering, and theft. Since then, the list of charges against Rep. Santos has grown to 23, and Rep. Santos’s Republican colleagues are preparing to introduce a resolution to expel him from office.

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) has been criminally charged with falsely setting off a fire alarm on Capitol Hill. In a bizarre September 30 incident, Rep. Bowman pulled a fire alarm at the Cannon House Office Building, causing a building evacuation and delaying proceedings in the House of Representatives for 90 minutes. Republicans argued that Rep. Bowman pulled the alarm in an attempt to obstruct or prevent a vote on key government funding legislation. For his part, Rep. Bowman contends that he was trying to enter a door that is usually open and that he simply made an honest mistake. According to NBC News, Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) commented that Rep. Bowman’s explanation “‘does not pass the sniff test.’” Indeed, Rep. Bowman’s conduct following the activation of the fire alarm is inconsistent with his story.

Rep. Bowman has announced that he will plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge against him, will pay a $1,000 fine, and will write an apology letter. The congressman continues to deny any intentional wrongdoing.