In response to the controversies surrounding George Santos and the subsequent call for increased transparency, two state lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at addressing the longstanding issue of dishonesty in politics.
State Sen. John Liu and Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti are spearheading the initiative, proposing a legislation that requires political candidates to sign a sworn statement attesting to the accuracy of their basic personal and professional details. Violations of this oath would result in serious perjury charges.
Liu, a Queens Democrat, highlighted the necessity of such measures in the current political landscape, stating, “We’re in a whole new world, and we actually now have to put in legislation to make sure people don’t lie.”
The sworn statement, submitted to boards of election, covers crucial aspects such as military service, employment history, current residential address, residency requirements, and educational background.
However, election lawyer John Ciampoli, formerly associated with Liu, raised concerns about potential conflicts with the state constitution and First Amendment rights. Ciampoli questioned the legality of adding qualifications for state office without constitutional amendments, emphasizing the challenge of regulating speech when it comes to candidates describing their experiences.
Despite these challenges, Liu and Sillitti believe that the public, rather than a government body, should be the ultimate judge of political honesty. In a world where resumes can be embellished, they advocate for constituents, media outlets, government watchdogs, and political opponents to scrutinize and verify the facts presented by candidates.
“These are basic facts that we expect the Fourth Estate to check, we expect constituents, we expect good government groups, we expect opponents to check these facts,” Liu emphasized, underscoring the importance of collective vigilance in upholding the integrity of political discourse.