Florida congressman and Trump ally Matt Gaetz was briefly labelled a “delinquent” by the Florida Bar, the state’s legal professional organisation, for failing to pay the $265 fees that allow him to practise law in the state.
The Bar’s public directory suggests that Mr Gaetz has since paid the fees and been returned to the status of a “member in good standing,” but his office says practising law is not his primary focus at the moment.
“Congressman Gaetz is no longer actively engaged in the practice of law. He is focused on representing his constituents in Congress, not the courtroom,” Joel Valdez, his communications director, told The Daily Beast, which reported on the lapse.
It’s not the first time that the conservative congressman has run afoul of the organisation.
In 2019, it took him to task after he seemingly threatened former Trump Organization fixer Michael Cohen. Ahead of Cohen’s highly watched congressional testimony, part of the former Trump attorney’s lengthy public battle with his former boss, Mr Gaetz tweeted, “Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” before later apologising.
The group called the conduct “unprofessional, reckless, insensitive, and demonstrated poor judgment,” and said it did not “reflect favourably on you as a member of the Florida Bar” in a 2019 letter.
The MAGA stalwart likely has bigger concerns than professional organisation dues. He’s currently under investigation by the federal government for child sex trafficking, part of a multi-person investigation into corruption and crime among Florida political figures.
In particular, Mr Gaetz is accused of breaking sex trafficking laws by providing goods or payments to a 17-year-old girl in exchange for sex, such as paying for her to travel with him. Another man, a former local tax collector named Joel Greenberg, has pleaded guilty to trafficking the same teenager and has agreed to cooperate with authorities. Greenberg has said Mr Gaetz and others had sex with the underaged girl.
The Florida representative has repeatedly denied the allegations.
“It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie,” Mr Gaetz has said, adding in a Fox appearance, “The person doesn’t exist. I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old. That is totally false.”
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