Ethics panel investigating whether Matt Gaetz got high at Florida party after he’d become a member of Congress

Panel has obtained sworn written statement from female witness to party in Florida. Mr Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 19 April 2024 21:34 BST
Related video: Kevin McCarthy claims he was ousted as speaker because Matt Gaetz ‘slept with a 17-year-old’

Investigators for the House Ethics Committee are reportedly looking into whether Florida Representative Matt Gaetz has used illicit drugs since he became a member of Congress, adding to the list of allegations being probed by the panel.

According to ABC News, staffers working for the bipartisan, evenly-divided House panel have asked witnesses questions about whether Mr Gaetz was under the influence of illegal substances during parties he attended following the start of his first term in January 2017.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the matter, the report states that the panel obtained a sworn written statement in which a female witness wrote about what she’d seen when she attended a party in the Sunshine State at which the congressman was present.

The statement also includes descriptions of illicit drugs that were at the party, including cocaine and ecstasy, as well as a passage indicating that the party was also attended by a then-17-year-old woman who was previously the focus of a years-long Department of Justice probe which focused on whether Mr Gaetz had sexual contact with her when she was below the legal age of consent.

According to the report, the woman who offered the statement said she saw the then-minor at the party without any clothes on. She also reportedly said there were multiple adult men there, and described bedrooms at the party site that were used for sexual activities.

A source told ABC that the statement at issue was not written for the ethics panel and was not “primarily” about Mr Gaetz. Nor does it state anything about whether Mr Gaetz had sex with the then-minor.

Mr Gaetz has repeatedly and strenuously denied any wrongdoing, and in 2023 he was told that he would not face any criminal charges as a result of the long-running probe.

But the allegations at issue are still under investigation by the House panel, which could recommend that the Florida firebrand be censured or expelled from the House.

The long-running House probe is alleged to be the reason Mr Gaetz pushed to sack then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year.

Last month, Mr McCarthy told CBS News that Mr Gaetz filed the motion to vacate the speakership which led to his removal after he refused to put the kibosh on the ethics investigation, which lay dormant for years but picked up steam after the Justice Department probe was closed.

“It was purely Matt coming to me trying ... [to get] me to do something illegal to stop the Ethics Committee from moving forward in an investigation that was started long before I became speaker,” he said.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Gaetz’s office for comment.

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