U.S. House ethics panel launches investigation into Republican Gaetz
Send a link to a friend
[April 10, 2021]
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The
Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee
said on Friday it has opened an investigation into Republican
congressman Matt Gaetz involving allegations including possible sexual
misconduct and illicit drug use.
The panel's Democratic chairman and top Republican said in a joint
statement they had become "aware of public allegations" that Gaetz, one
of former President Donald Trump's most prominent supporters in
Congress, may have violated "House rules, laws or other standards of
Gaetz is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department for possibly
violating sex-trafficking laws by paying travel expenses for a
17-year-old female with whom he was romantically involved, according to
a U.S. law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Florida congressman has not been charged with any crimes and has
repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
The ethics committee leaders said the allegations included whether 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."
Gaetz's office responded in a statement: "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
Speaking at a "Save America Summit" at the Trump National Doral resort
in Miami on Friday, Gaetz said that "wild conspiracy theories" were
being used to smear him.
"I'm built for the battle, and I'm not going anywhere," Gaetz said.
The summit was organized by a pro-Trump group called Women for America
First. That group also organized a Jan. 6 rally near the White House
that preceded the deadly rampage by a pro-Trump mob at the U.S. Capitol.
[to top of second column]
Representative Matt Gaetz, (R-FL), speaks during a hearing in the
Rayburn House office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S.,
July 29, 2020. Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo/File
Earlier, Representative Adam Kinzinger became the first
congressional Republican to call for Gaetz to quit his post.
"Matt Gaetz needs to resign," Kinzinger, an outspoken critic of
Trump, said in a Twitter post on Thursday night.
A friend of Gaetz, a former Florida county tax collector named Joel
Greenberg, is expected to plead guilty in a sex trafficking and
fraud case in a Florida federal court, officials said on Thursday.
Greenberg's attorney Fritz Scheller told reporters on Thursday, "I'm
sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today." Scheller may
have been referring to media reports that Greenberg could cooperate
with federal investigators in their probe of Gaetz.
Two New York criminal defense lawyers on Friday confirmed they had
been hired by Gaetz.
"Matt has always been a fighter ... and he's going to fight back
against the unfounded allegations against him. His legal team, led
by Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, will take the fight to those
trying to smear his name with falsehoods," said a statement on the
lawyers' behalf by Erin Elmore of the Logan Circle Group.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Mark Hosenball; Additional reporting
by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Dan Grebler, Will Dunham and Grant
[© 2021 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2021 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.