Probe into US Congressman Matt Gaetz continues to build as the committee provide unusual update

Kevin Freking
AP
US Republican Matt Gaetz has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.
US Republican Matt Gaetz has repeatedly denied the allegations against him. Credit: AAP

The US House Ethics Committee has given an unusual public update into its long-running investigation of Republican Matt Gaetz, saying its review now includes whether Gaetz engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, accepted improper gifts and sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct.

The committee also announced on Tuesday that it was no longer reviewing four other allegations involving the congressman, including that he shared inappropriate images or videos with colleagues on the House floor or that he accepted a bribe or converted campaign funds to personal use.

Gaetz has categorically denied all the allegations before the committee.

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In an X post on Monday pre-empting the committee’s announcement, Gaetz noted that the ethics panel closed four probes and said those investigations had “emerged from lies intended solely to smear me”.

“Instead of working with me to ban Congressional stock trading, the Ethics Committee is now opening new frivolous investigations. They are doing this to avoid the obvious fact that every investigation into me ends the same way: my exoneration,” Gaetz wrote.

The committee began its review of Gaetz in April 2021, deferred its work in response to a Justice Department request, and renewed its work in May of last year after the DOJ dropped its request that lawmaker hold off an investigating. That was shortly after Gaetz announced the Justice Department had ended a sex trafficking investigation without bringing charges against him.

The ethics committee said that despite the difficulty of obtaining relevant information from Gaetz and others, it has spoken with more than a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas and reviewed thousands of pages of documents.

One thing under investigation is whether Gaetz “dispensed special privileges and favours to individuals with whom he had a personal relationship,” the committee said.

The ethics committee cautioned that the existence of an investigation does not itself indicate that any violation of law or House rules occurred. The statement said that no other public comment will be made on the matter.

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