Skip to content

Matt Gaetz goes on offensive as House Ethics offers update on probe

Favors and obstruction allegations now under review, panel says, as sexual misconduct investigation continues

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks to reporters on the House steps of the U.S. Capitol before the last votes of the week on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks to reporters on the House steps of the U.S. Capitol before the last votes of the week on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A day after Matt Gaetz said on social media that the House Ethics Committee was “opening new frivolous investigations” into him, the committee released a statement offering a glimpse of its ongoing probe.

The committee said it is currently reviewing allegations that Gaetz may have “engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, accepted improper gifts, dispensed special privileges and favors to individuals with whom he had a personal relationship, and sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct.”

The Florida Republican has been dogged for years by allegations of inappropriate behavior, including accusations that he engaged in sex trafficking and had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old. The Justice Department last year concluded an investigation without charging Gaetz, the congressman’s office said at the time.

But House Ethics, which announced its own investigation into Gaetz in April 2021, pressed on last year after initially deferring to the DOJ. In the statement released Tuesday, the committee briefly described its work so far and suggested that obtaining information from Gaetz had not been easy.

“Representative Gaetz has categorically denied all of the allegations before the Committee. Notwithstanding the difficulty in obtaining relevant information from Representative Gaetz and others, the Committee has spoken with more than a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents in this matter,” according to the statement from the committee, which is composed of five Republicans and five Democrats.

The statement noted that the committee had “identified additional allegations that merit review” during the course of its probe. But it also named a few others the panel was done with. It “will take no further action at this time” on allegations that Gaetz “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.”

Gaetz is a divisive figure within the House GOP conference. The Trump loyalist, who has represented Florida’s western Panhandle since 2017, led the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last October, triggering the motion to vacate that would hurl House Republicans into weeks of chaos, culminating with then-little-known Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson winning the gavel.

The feud between McCarthy and Gaetz has continued even after the former speaker left Congress at the end of last year. During an interview at Georgetown University in April, McCarthy said he was ousted because he refused to kill the Ethics investigation into Gaetz.

“It’s because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old,” McCarthy said, referring to the allegations. “Did he do it or not? I don’t know.”

Gaetz called McCarthy a “liar” and has maintained his innocence. Asked for comment on Tuesday’s Ethics Committee release, his office referred Roll Call to the statement Gaetz posted to X on Monday.

“This is Soviet. Kevin McCarthy showed them the man, and they are now trying to find the crime. I work for Northwest Floridians who won’t be swayed by this nonsense and McCarthy and his goons know it,” Gaetz posted.

The investigation into Gaetz has provoked a flurry of media attention. CNN, citing “a source familiar,” reported in January that the committee had reached out to the woman with whom Gaetz allegedly had sex when she was a minor. A series of other stories have followed in recent months, providing updates on the work of the normally secretive Ethics panel, which appeared to address the leaks in its statement.

“There has been a significant and unusual amount of public reporting on the Committee’s activities this Congress. Much of that reporting has been inaccurate,” according to the statement. “The Committee’s investigations are conducted confidentially, but the Committee’s confidentiality rules do not prohibit witnesses from disclosing information about the Committee’s requests or conversations with Committee investigators. The Committee is confident in the integrity of its process.”

Gaetz is viewed by many as a potential 2026 Florida gubernatorial candidate, though he’s denied he has any intention to run. He is running for reelection to Congress in Florida’s 1st District. Aaron Dimmock, a former Navy pilot, will challenge Gaetz in a Republican primary this August.