OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Things are getting more troublesome for Republican Florida Sen. Matt Gaetz as he faces allegations of, among other things, sex trafficking.
On Friday The House Ethics Committee said it was investigating allegations against the representative, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, and Republican, New York Rep. Tom Reed, for reasons not related to the Gaetz probe, Reuters reported.
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 conduct.”
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 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. The Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations,” the committee said.
“The Committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee. No other public comment will be made on this matter except in accordance with Committee rules,” it said.
But Rep. Gaetz has been steadfast in his denial of any wrongdoing and continued to maintain in his innocence in a speech at Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort.
“I have not yet begun to fight,” the representative said.
“Thank you to my amazing fiancé Ginger. I love you with all my heart and I can assure you… the best is indeed yet to come,” he said.
“The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild and I mean wild conspiracy theories. I will not be intimidated by the lying media and I won’t be extorted for DOJ officials and the crooks. The truth will prevail,” he said.
That follows previous claims of innocence by Rep. Gaetz as the probe continues.
Gaetz released a statement saying he and his family have “been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.”
Gaetz also told Axios: “I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I’ve dated. You know, I’ve paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner. I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not.”
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Gaetz joined Tucker Carlson on Fox News to discuss the New York Times hit piece.
Gaetz argued that he was being framed by people at the DOJ and called on the Department to release audio recordings made when his father wore a wire at the FBI’s behest during what Gaetz portrayed as part of an investigation into an alleged extortionist.
Gaetz says “the FBI and the Department of Justice” need to release tapes to clear his name and that “those tapes will show that I am innocent.”
Gaetz then told Tucker that he had once met a woman, whom Gaetz had brought to a dinner engagement, who was “threatened” by the FBI and told “if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme that she could face charges. I do believe there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me. Providing flights and transportation for people you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime.”