When Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz isn’t playing catch with his fully grown adopted, but not really adopted man-child Nestor, he’s apparently violating House ethics rules, allegedly.
Gaetz, a grown man who longs to be Trump’s son, “improperly sent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a limited liability company linked to a speech-writing consultant who was ousted from the Trump administration, in direct conflict with House rules,” a Politico exclusive found.
Oh bu..bu..bu..but, wait; it gets worse. Gaetz’s television appearances—you know the ones where he appears to be in a loving home—are courtesy of the Florida representative spending a pretty penny to have a television studio installed in his father’s Niceville, Fla., home.
Taxpayers foot the bill to rent the television camera, and the private company that built the studio— which Gaetz refuses to identify—takes a fee each time he appears on air, his office said. It’s unclear how much it cost the private company to construct the studio.
This may run afoul of the House gift rule, which prohibits any lawmaker, aide, and their family members from accepting gifts worth more than $50. The official definition of a gift is very broad and covers virtually any good or service with monetary value.
Gaetz’s office denies wrongdoing in both cases. Gaetz’s aides said the House Ethics Committee approved both arrangements but declined to produce any evidence that that was the case.
His latest actions suggest a broader pattern by the second-term lawmaker of pushing the bounds of—if not outright defying—restrictions intended to guard against corruption and conflicts of interest.
Apparently, Trump’s adopted but not really adopted man-child Gaetz has conceded that he improperly sent $28,000 of taxpayer money to a company associated with former Trump speech-writing consultant, Darren Beattie, who was given the Jazzy Jeff treatment out of the White House after he made the mistake of letting it be known that he attended a convention widely attended by racists and white supremacists. The White House wasn’t mad that he went; just mad that the press found out. (Sike, but not sike.)
According to Politico, “House rules explicitly prohibit spending taxpayer dollars on speech-writing consultants.”
“Gaetz disclosed 14 separate $2,000 payments to Presidential Communications and Strategies, a limited liability company that appeared to be registered by an unidentified agent in a tiny town in Wyoming,” Politico reports. “The checks were sent to an apartment in Arlington, Va., according to sources familiar with the arrangement.”
Politico notes that “The payments were to Beattie, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement. Gaetz announced hiring Beattie as a speech-writing adviser in April 2019, but he was never added to Gaetz’s congressional payroll, according to House disbursement records. Instead, Gaetz paid him through the Wyoming-based LLC.”
After Politico harassed Gaetz’s office for some six-weeks, they finally responded and claimed that it was all just a clerical error.
“Although the contractual arrangement was approved by the necessary House authorities, a second review by the Finance Office determined that the services could not be contracted for in exactly that fashion, and our office is currently working through the best way to proceed with both Finance and the House Ethics Committee,” Gaetz’s chief of staff Jillian Lane Wyant told Politico.
“The funds were all immediately returned to the House as soon as the review determined this was not the right way to structure this,” Wyant added. “This is nothing more than a glorified clerical error—and while it is baffling that Politico should find this newsworthy—it is disappointing Politico plots to demean individuals who’ve made an innocent clerical mistake and are working to correct it.”
Gaetz’s office didn’t provide Politico with any paperwork to prove that a television studio arrangement had been approved, but House officials told the news site that the chances that bullshit was approved is highly unlikely and most likely violates the gift ban.
Politico notes that Gaetz is a “new breed” of politician who makes a lot of noise but doesn’t really do shit legislatively. The 38-year-old makes frequent television appearances and infamously wore a gas mask on the House floor during the early reports of the coronavirus pandemic because he’s an asshole. Despite his proximity to Trump’s balls, he doesn’t pass many bills and “has never been involved with high-stakes negotiations.”
This isn’t the first time that Gaetz’s spending has been under review. Politico reported in April that the junior congressman rented an office “in Pensacola, Fla., from a longtime friend, political donor and policy adviser. Both the friend—local businessman Collier Merrill—and Gaetz said the rental deal was hashed out privately and below market value.”
The Office of Congressional Ethics looked into the deal but dropped the investigation.