Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz is facing the possibility of a political demise or even criminal charges as the scandal surrounding the FBI investigation expands. With more allegations of inappropriate conduct, reports that the criminal probe against him continues to expand, a key member of his staff resigning, and politicians calling for his resignation or demotion from Committee position due to the scandal.
Gaetz has been in the eye of the hurricane since the New York Times published the exclusive last week, asserting that the congressman was under the federal investigation to determine if the congressman had broke any sex-trafficking laws due to an alleged relationship he had with an unidentified 17 year-old girl and his relationship with a local Florida politician, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted of sex trafficking charges last summer.
The New York Times also reported the federal investigation is focused on whether the congressman paid cash to women with whom he then had sexual relations. The article also states these women were first contacted by Greenberg through an app and then presented to Gaetz, with the Times saying their staff reviewed the receipts made by the congressman and Greenberg to at least two women.
The congressman has vehemently denied any wrongdoing on his part and has tied the investigation with an alleged extortion plot against him and his family, declaring in a strange interview with Tucker Carlson that there was a conspiracy lead by former federal prosecutor. The congressman claims he was asked to give $25 million to the conspirators in order to get the investigation against him buried and that federal authorities were already investigating this supposed extortion scheme.
After the story was first made public, new allegations of sexual impropriety have surfaced. With sources telling CNN that Gaetz had shared private photos of women he have had a relationship with to other lawmakers. This accusation does not, according to CNN, have any link with the federal investigation against Gaetz, but its revelation would certainly not help the congressman in the court of public opinion.
Another bad news for the embattled Florida lawmaker was the resignation of his Communications Director, Luke Ball, last Friday. With the Congressman’s office saying that “The Office of Congressman Matt Gaetz and Luke Ball have agreed that it would be best to part ways” to Fox News. The former employee has not made any public statement on the reasons for his resignation.
Politically, the leadership on both parties have said the congressman would certainly face dire consequences if the charges are proved to be true. With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying the congressman should be removed from his position in the House Judiciary Committee. On the Republican side, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Gaetz would face serious consequences and made clear that House Republicans would strip him out of his committee assignments if the investigation reveals the accusations to be true.
Gaetz has been supported by some of his Republican colleagues, with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) saying that they both believed the Florida Congressman, with Jordan saying that he should not be removed from the Judiciary Committee. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any accusation of him doing anything illegal, and has vowed to not resign as congressman.
Even if Gaetz resigns, this would not create a long-lasting change in the partisan composition of the House of Representatives as the congressional district that Gaetz represents, Florida’s first district, votes reliably Republican, with Gaetz cruising his 2020 reelection bid with more than 60% of the vote, with the Cook Political report valuing the district as 22% more Republican than the country, making it the most Republican district in the state.
The congressman was one of former President Trump’s most ardent supporters in Capitol Hill, and he even lead an ultimately unsuccessful bid to expel Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her congressional leadership position due to her public condemnations against Trump’s role on the January 6th Capitol riots.
Congressman Gaetz is facing the political and legal fight of his life, which is in the hands of the Federal Prosecutors who are investigating his case.