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House ethics committee investigating Gaetz allegations

By
Don Johnson & Danielle Haynes
Rep. Matt Gaetz, (R-FL), addresses attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2021 hosted by the American Conservative Union at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on February 26, 2021. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
Rep. Matt Gaetz, (R-FL), addresses attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2021 hosted by the American Conservative Union at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on February 26, 2021. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

April 9 (UPI) -- The House ethics committee announced Friday it opened an investigation into accusations Rep. Matt Gaetz engaged in sexual misconduct along with a number of other allegations.

The decision comes after Gaetz, R-Fla., confirmed last month that he was under investigation for allegedly violating federal sex trafficking laws.

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"The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct," a statement from the panel said.

"The committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations."

RELATED Matt Gaetz 'absolutely not resigning' amid sex trafficking investigation

There have been calls for Gaetz to resign in response to the allegations, including from Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., the first Republican to come out against him.

Kinzinger tweeted Thursday night: "Matt Gaetz needs to resign." In his tweet, Kinzinger linked to an article about the Justice Department's investigation into Gaetz.

Gaetz, who has not been charged, has denied any wrongdoing since The New York Times first reported last month on the federal investigation. Gaetz has said he is "absolutely not resigning."

RELATED Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz claims sex trafficking investigation is extortion attempt

The New York Times reported investigators are examining whether Gaetz violated sex trafficking laws by engaging in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paying for her to travel with him.

Gaetz declared the probe as an extortion attempt by a former Justice Department official, saying his father had been in contact with the FBI about the matter.

Gaetz, 38, has said that he is "not a monk, and certainly not a criminal" adding that he has never paid for sex and "as an adult man" has not slept with a 17-year-old. Gaetz made the comments in an op-ed he wrote for the Washington Examiner.

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Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and Gaetz associate, has been indicted on more than 30 federal charges in a related case and is negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors. Among other crimes, Greenberg is charged with child sex trafficking.

Greenberg is accused of trafficking the teen whose relationship with Gaetz is under investigation. He and Gaetz allegedly made payments to several of the same women for sex, according to the Times.

The Times report said the investigation began under then-Attorney General William Barr in the final months of former President Donald Trump's administration and was part of a probe into Greenberg.

GOP lawmakers have remained mostly silent on the Gaetz allegations.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that it's too early in the investigation to judge Gaetz, adding he would remove Gaetz from his committee assignments if the allegations are found to be true.

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