Matt Gaetz named as subject of House Ethics Committee probe
The House Ethics Committee said it has begun an investigation into allegations involving Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.), citing a host of alleged abuses including sexual misconduct, the sharing of inappropriate images or videos on the House floor and the improper conversion of campaign funds to personal use. The panel disclosed its probe as scrutiny intensifies around the Florida Republican, who has denied wrongdoing and said he won’t resign.
Writing earlier this week in the Washington Examiner, he said, “my personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime.”
And he added: “I will not be intimidated or extorted.”
"The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct," the panel said in a statement announcing it is beginning an investigation to gather additional information.
"The Committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee," the statement noted.
The Ethics probe comes on the heels of The New York Times first reporting that the Florida Republican is being investigated by the Department of Justice for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl and a possible violation of sex trafficking laws.
A second Times report included allegations Gaetz and his friend, former Florida county tax collector Joel Greenberg, paid multiple women who were recruited for sex online where illegal drugs may have been present.
Since the initial Times report, a slew of other allegations emerged including a CNN report stating the Republican congressman showed other members pictures of nude women on the House Floor.
“Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement in response to the Ethics probe.
Gaetz — a conservative firebrand who rose in prominence as one of former President Trump’s most vocal defenders and made a name for himself as a regular on right-wing television networks — has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
He alleges that he and his family have been targeted in an extortion scheme from a former DOJ official seeking millions of dollars to make the accusations disappear.
The DOJ official, David McGee, has denied any connection to an extortion scheme.
Greenberg’s lawyers said in court on Thursday they expect their client to strike a plea deal — a move that could potentially place more pressure on Gaetz.
Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes at this point, but has hired two top defense attorneys as the investigation continues.
The GOP lawmaker has asserted he has no plans to step down from his congressional seat.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, continuing his ongoing feud with most of the “corporate media,” on Thursday signed into law a contentious election bill during an event where only Fox News was allowed to observe.
Rep. Liz Cheney’s colleagues are set to boot her from House GOP leadership this month. Now Republicans back in her home state of Wyoming are plotting how to remove her from Congress entirely. There is no shortage of Republicans eager to take on Cheney in a 2022 primary since her vote to impeach President Donald Trump and her subsequent criticism of him tanked her popularity in Wyoming. But the crowded field is also a risk for the anti-Cheney forces, making it more possible for her to win with a plurality.
Veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz warned that former President Trump’s repeated assertions that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him could hurt Republican efforts to take back the House in 2022. Luntz noted in an interview on the New York Times podcast “Sway” released Thursday that “more than two-thirds of Republicans believe that the election was stolen,” warning that a widespread and unproven belief that there was rampant fraud last November could turn Republicans off from voting in the midterm elections.
Liz Cheney, the third-most-powerful House Republican, has warned that her party is “at a turning point” as it prepares to try to remove her from leadership for rejecting Donald Trump’s false claims about the election. Writing in a defiant op-ed, published by the Washington Post on Wednesday, the Wyoming Republican told her party that standing with Trump meant undermining the rule of law and risking continued violence. “Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work – confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law."