Related: Ted Lieu says Matt Gaetz should be removed from judiciary committee

Matt Gaetz fought revenge porn bill, arguing snaps of ex-lovers were ‘his to use’, former lawmaker says

When it came to private pictures sent by ex-lovers, a former state lawmaker says the Florida congressman ‘thought the picture was his to do with what he wanted’

Chris Riotta
New York
@chrisriotta
Tuesday 06 April 2021 20:45
comments
Leer en Español

A Republican who spent years garnering support for a bill in the Florida Legislature which would effectively make it illegal to share nonconsensual pornography had one major opponent: Matt Gaetz

The Florida congressman and former state representative currently embroiled in a major child sex-trafficking scandal, which alleges he engaged in “sugar daddy” relationships with teenage girls, strongly opposed the legislation outlawing what’s become known as revenge porn, former state Rep. Tom Goodson said on Monday.

The former lawmaker told the Orlando Sentinel Mr Gaetz “was absolutely against” his bill, saying the congressman “thought the picture was his to do with what he wanted”. 

After explosive reports were published last week about a federal investigation surrounding Mr Gaetz and others alleged to have funded trips for girls as young as 17, CNN reported the congressman shared nude photos of women he claimed to have slept with to lawmakers while on the House floor. One anonymous source reportedly described the photos as a “point of pride” to the outlet. 

The new interview with Mr Goodson added further backstory to an ever-developing controversy surrounding Mr Gaetz, who has denied all allegations and instead claimed his family were the victims of an alleged extortion plot.

Mr Goodson said that, when it came to sharing photos of ex-lovers, Mr Gaetz “thought that any picture was his to use as he wanted to, as an expression of his rights”.

Read more:

In a meeting between the two lawmakers, Mr Goodson said Mr Gaetz shared his view that photos sent to someone by another person were theirs to share and use however they like, regardless of the private nature of some content sent between consenting adults. 

Mr Goodson added about his former colleague: “If you crossed him, he was after you.”

Since reports of the child sex-trafficking investigation have been reported, Mr Gaetz faced growing calls to step down or face expulsion from his committee assignments, with House Democrat Ted Lieu saying in a recent interview the congressman should be removed from the Judiciary Committee. 

A version of Mr Goodson’s bill eventually cleared the legislature and was passed in 2015, after the Republican worked for nearly three years to build support for the legislation. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the only two “no” votes came from Mr Gaetz and his former roommate, Republican State Rep. John Tobia. 

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments