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Matt Gaetz's sexual-misconduct probe just got more serious

Bryan Metzger   

Matt Gaetz's sexual-misconduct probe just got more serious
  • The House Ethics Committee issued a rare statement Tuesday on its inquiry into Matt Gaetz.
  • The panel is looking into whether he sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct.

The House Ethics Committee made clear on Tuesday that it's still investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz.

In addition to the long-standing sexual-misconduct allegations, the panel said it's now looking into whether the controversial Florida congressman had "sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct."

The rare public statement came after Gaetz, who led the charge to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, denounced the committee and blamed the former speaker for the ongoing inquiry in a Monday post on X.

"This is Soviet," Gaetz wrote. McCarthy has long said that Gaetz called a vote for his ouster over the ethics-panel investigation, which the Florida congressman has denied.

While saying it had "difficulty in obtaining relevant information" from Gaetz, the committee said it had "spoken with more than a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents" as part of the inquiry.

The committee has been investigating Gaetz since April 2021 but had deferred to the Justice Department as it conducted its own sex-trafficking investigation into the Florida congressman. The department ended that investigation last year without charging Gaetz, prompting the committee to restart its own inquiry in May 2023.

Both investigations have centered on allegations that Gaetz violated sex-trafficking laws and had sex with a 17-year-old girl.

The committee indicated on Tuesday that the scope of the inquiry had shifted.

While the committee is still investigating whether Gaetz engaged in "sexual misconduct and illicit drug use," the panel said it was no longer looking into claims that he showed explicit images on the House floor, used campaign funds for personal reasons, or accepted bribes.

Altogether, the committee now says it's investigating whether Gaetz:

  • 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.
  • Sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct.

It's unclear when the committee's work will conclude, but the panel has taken a more aggressive approach toward policing members' behavior in the past year.

In November, the committee released a damning report on then-Rep. George Santos, leading to his expulsion weeks later.

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