Expanded Ethics Probe Targets Congressman Matt Gaetz’s Behavior

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In a remarkable public disclosure, the House Ethics Committee announced on Tuesday that it is broadening the scope of its ongoing investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida. The revised inquiry is set to probe whether the congressman engaged in sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, acceptance of inappropriate gifts, as well as obstruction of government investigations into his behavior.

The Ethics Committee went on to reveal that it has dropped its inquiries into four other allegations targeting Gaetz. Among these dropped charges include claims of him sharing unsuitable images or videos with fellow representatives on the House floor and accusations of bribery or personal misuse of campaign funds. Gaetz has steadfastly denied all the allegations placed before the committee.

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Before the committee’s announcement on Tuesday, Gaetz proactively addressed the situation via a tweet on Monday. He argued that the panel’s decision to close four investigations against him vindicated his stand, with the inquiries having been based on fabricated lies aimed at tarnishing his reputation.

He railed against the committee for what he dubbed as “frivolous investigations”, insinuating that the panel was more interested in smearing his reputation rather than joining forces with him to tackle issues like Congressional stock trading.

Gaetz used the social platform X to voice his contentions, boldly asserting every investigation concerning him ultimately leads to his “exoneration.”

The firebrand congressman was central to the effort to unseat then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy last fall, a divisive move which saw seven other Republicans, and 208 Democrats, backing him. However, this act left many House Republicans embittered, accusing Gaetz of putting personal interests above the party’s.

Despite the investigation commencing before Republicans seized the majority in the House, Gaetz pointed an accusatory finger at McCarthy for the Ethics Committee’s review. In a defiant post on X, Gaetz branded the scenario as a “Soviet” style witch hunt, alluding to McCarthy’s alleged role in instigating it.

The review into Gaetz’s conduct started in April 2021 but was put on hold due to a Justice Department request. This hiatus was lifted in May of the same year after the DOJ dropped its request for a postponement of the investigation – a decision that came soon after Gaetz triumphantly announced that he was cleared of a sex trafficking investigation without facing any charges.

Along with this expansion of its investigation, the Ethics Committee informed that it had managed to conduct interviews with over a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas, and sifted through thousands of pages of documents despite the difficulty in procuring relevant information from Gaetz and other parties involved.

Another facet of the investigation concerns allegations that Gaetz may have given special privileges and favors to individuals he shares personal relationships with.

However, the committee was keen to point out that an investigation’s mere existence does not denote a violation of law or House rules. It also announced that no further public comment would be made regarding the matter.