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Matt Gaetz says he’s always ‘screaming loudest’ about ethics despite sexual misconduct probe

Florida Republican defended himself during CPAC speech outside Washington

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 23 February 2024 22:50 GMT
Related video: Gaetz calls for end to aid to Israel unless US cuts funding for United Nations

Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, the subject of a long-running House Ethics Committee probe into whether he engaged in sex with an underage female while serving in the House of Representatives, lashed out at the chairman of that committee during a speech to a right-wing conference.

Mr Gaetz, who was also the target of a years-long Department of Justice probe into whether he violated criminal laws against sex trafficking by transporting the same underage female across state lines for illicit purposes, was not charged by prosecutors after that probe was wrapped last year.

But the GOP firebrand, whose struggles with the Ethics panel were reportedly a factor in his push to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his post last year, is still facing the internal House probe, for which investigators have reportedly spoken to the female in question as well as a former friend of the congressman who allegedly witnessed him have sex with the underage girl.

Yet he told attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that he is the one who has been fighting for ethical standards, and accused the Ethics Committee chair, Representative Michael Guest of Mississippi, of insider trading in violation of federal law.

“I have problems with the Ethics committee, which is really odd to me because I’m the one screaming loudest about actual ethics reforms,” he said, pointing to his advocacy for a ban on stock trading by House members as well as for prohibitions on accepting campaign donations from lobbyists or political action committees.

“Their sole purpose is to buy votes. And for the same reason you don’t let the umpire that on the game. Members of Congress should not be allowed to trade individual stocks,” he continued, before turning his attention to Mr Guest, bashing him for having voted for a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol and implying that he has abused his position to gain financial advantage from stock trading.

Mr Guest, he said, “not only voted for the January 6 Commission” but “has become a brilliant stock trader while in office”.

“And I admire the obvious genius — he knew exactly the right time to buy online gambling stocks,” he said. “Gaming securities netted him a hefty 36 per cent gain. Not too shabby”.

Mr Gaetz then claimed he was not accusing Mr Guest of insider trading despite having accused him of insider trading.

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