The next congressional election is still a year and a half away, but the roster of candidates lining up to evict Congressman George Santos from his House seat is already sizable.
The scandal-plagued freshman lawmaker has come under unperfected scrutiny for fabricating his life story, and faces a 13-count indictment for embezzlement, unemployment fraud, and lying to Congress about his finances. So far, eight Democrats and seven Republicans have announced their bids to unseat the disgraced Congressman, including Jim Toes, president and CEO of the Security Traders Association.
Son of a former New York City police captain, the 60-year-old was born in Levittown, raised in Melville and is a 30-year resident of Manhasset where he and his wife, Jeanine, raised four children. He says his decades-long career in finance and in the securities industry, as well as meeting with house members to discuss legislation and regulation, have prepared him to serve in Congress. Toes says his strength as a political outsider with hands-on experience dealing with the federal government on national issues puts him in a unique position.
While attending Fordham, Toes initially dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps to become an officer with the New York Police Department. But when reflecting on his career he declined to join the department.
Toes began bartending in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, which at the time, was a well-known hotspot for those working on Wall Street. From there, he handed out his resume to patrons, waiting for someone to take a chance on him.
His big break came that December when he connected with a patron from Oppenheimer and Co., Inc., and was hired as an assistant to a financial trader. In 1993 Toes joined Merrill Lynch, a wealth management division of Bank of America, as the Division Head of Broker Dealer Sales. He rose to the ranks of managing director, where he held various management positions and interacted with a broad range of clients, including institutional and middle-market asset managers, broker-dealers and retail investors.
His experience in finance led him to become the President and CEO of the Security Traders Association, a grassroots trade organization, which serves individuals employed in the financial services industry. There, Toes advocates for free-markets and “common-sense” market regulation with both Republican and Democratic congressional members in Washington, DC.
Toes has testified in front of Congress twice on topics of capital market structure, and worked with congressional members who view the financial markets in the context of capital formation and regulation. His understanding of legislative and regulatory processes helped him discuss a wide range of complex regulatory and legislative issues.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to see what your congressional members are doing and what they’re thinking about,” Toes said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for them to get input and to be educated on a topic. It gives citizens an incredible view into what their government is doing and the questions that they’re asking. On the flip side it is giving the representatives an opportunity to learn.”
Toes said he didn’t vote for Santos because of his “extremist,” views, but was surprised by the news of the numerous allegations. Immediately after hearing the alleged allegations, Toes searched four of Santos’ aliases via Finra Broker Check, a free tool available to the public, which helps research, the professional backgrounds of investment professionals, brokerage firms and investment adviser firms. Toes found nothing that traced back to Santos after entering the queries.
The number one priority for government, he said, should be to protect its citizens, which includes handling financial crises as well as upholding constitutional rights.
“This is a real civil servant type of job if you have the right attitude about it,” Toes said. “I’ve heard politicians tell me something in their office, and then have them do something different publicly. I’ve had politicians that I’ve come across that are real civil servants, and they’re doing this for the right reason, and I’ve seen politicians do things that would make the worst CEO in financial services look like a child.”