Rep. Matt Gaetz investigated by House Ethics Committee

Rep. Matt Gaetz investigated by House Ethics Committee

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) walks away from the U.S. Capitol after his motion to vacate the chair of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and end McCarthy’s continued leadership succeeded by a vote of 216-210, outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 3, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The House Ethics Committee said Tuesday it has identified “additional allegations” against Rep. Matt Gaetz “that merit review,” as it continues to investigate the Florida Republican over claims of what it called “sexual misconduct and illicit drug use.”

The Ethics Committee said it is now eyeing claims that Gaetz — who denies wrongdoing — “dispensed special privileges and favors to individuals with whom he had a personal relationship, and sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct.”

The ethics panel also said it had difficulty in obtaining relevant information from Gaetz and others since the probe began in April 2021 amid a federal criminal sex trafficking investigation of Gaetz and a friend, Joel Greenberg. That criminal probe ended with a guilty plea by Greenberg, but no charges were filed against Gaetz.

After conducting interviews with more than a dozen witness and examining thousands of pages of documents, the committee said it has “determined that certain of the allegations merit continued review.”

“During the course of its investigation, the Committee has also identified additional allegations that merit review,” despite the difficulty of getting information from Gaetz, the Ethics Committee said.

But the panel also said Tuesday that it was suspending existing probes into four separate allegations of wrongdoing against Gaetz.

The committee “will take no further action at this time on the allegations that he may have shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe or improper gratuity.”

The committee issued the rare press release after Gaetz accused it of “opening new frivolous investigations” in him.

“They are doing this to avoid the obvious fact that every investigation into me ends the same way: my exoneration,” Gaetz wrote in the post on the social media site X.

Gaetz blamed former Rep. Kevin McCarthy for pushing the ethics inquiry. Gaetz helped to depose the California Republican and former House Speaker last October, after less than a year as speaker. McCarthy resigned from the House in December.

“This is Soviet,’ Gaetz alleged. “Kevin McCarthy showed them the man, and they are now trying to find the crime.”

Gaetz’s fate and the outcome of the ethics probe carry more weight now that Republicans have only a paper-thin majority in the House of Representatives.

The GOP holds 218 seats in the House, while Democrats hold 213 seats.

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