Gaetz Targeted by Ethics Panel Amid Sex-Trafficking Probe
(Bloomberg) -- The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, over sexual misconduct allegations and possible violations of House rules.
“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,” Committee Chairman Ted Deutch and ranking Republican Jackie Walorski said in a statement.
The New York Times reported last week that Gaetz is being investigated by the Justice Department over alleged relationships with women recruited online for sex, possibly including a 17-year-old girl, and whether he violated federal sex-trafficking laws.
The congressman, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, has hired one of Trump’s defense lawyers amid the federal inquiry. Marc Mukasey, the son of former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, confirmed in an email Friday that he’d been hired by Gaetz.
Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector for Florida’s Seminole County and a political ally of Gaetz, told a judge this week he’s ready to plead guilty in a child sex-trafficking and identity-theft case -- an indication that Greenberg may be cooperating with prosecutors.
Gaetz, 38, has denied the allegations and suggested he’s the victim of an extortion attempt. He didn’t respond a request for comment on Friday.
But Friday night, at a pro-Trump “Women for America First” event at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Gaetz said that he’s “not going anywhere” and that he was the victim of “lies and leaks.”
“Firebrands don’t retreat, especially when the battle for the soul of our country calls,” he said, in remarks reported by the New York Times.
The House panel also opened an investigation Friday into GOP Representative Tom Reed of New York over sexual misconduct allegations.
Reed’s office said in a statement that “we have already publicly addressed this situation and consistent with that are cooperating with the House Ethics Committee to bring this matter to conclusion.”
Two top aides to Gaetz have resigned this month. The latest was Devin Murphy, the lawmaker’s legislative director. Axios reported Saturday that Murphy’s automated email response says, “I am no longer with the office of Congressman Matt Gaetz. Womp womp. Cue the sad trombone.”
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