Matt Gaetz Targets Republican Chair of House Ethics Committee

On Saturday, Rep. Matt Gaetz turned his anger on fellow Republican Representative Michael Guest. Guest is the chair of the House Ethics Committee, which is investigating allegations that Gaetz participated in sex trafficking.


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“Word is,” Gaetz said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “I now have problems with the Ethics Committee.”

Ongoing problems

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In fact, Gaetz has been under investigation for a while. Last February, the Department of Justice concluded a sex trafficking investigation into the controversial politician, declining to charge him with any crimes.

The suspicion

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The investigation was sparked by allegations that Gaetz participated in the trafficking of a 17-year-old girl. The representative was also accused of having sexual intercourse with a minor. While he was not charged, his former associate, Joel Greenberg, was.

Harsh charges

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Greenberg pleaded guilty to six charges in 2021, including sex trafficking of a minor, and is currently serving an 11-year sentence in prison.

Continued investigation

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While the Justice Department concluded its investigation into Gaetz, the House Ethics Committee has not. On Thursday, it subpoenaed Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend.


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The fact he was still under investigation apparently angered Gaetz, who said it “seems really odd to me because I’m the one screaming loudest for actual ethics reforms.”

About those reforms

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“Members of Congress should have a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists or registered foreign agents,” Gaetz explained.

Politician pipeline

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Dozens of former members of Congress, some of whom lost their seats in elections, have returned to Capitol Hill as lobbyists, consultants, or business representatives. A 2019 Vox report counted 26 such conversions after the 2018 midterms, most of them Republicans.

Seeking experts

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Former politicians are highly sought after by lobbying firms due to their knowledge of and connections in Congress. While only 5% of former legislators became registered lobbyists in the 1970s, a 2016 report by Lee Drutman found that one-half of retired senators and a third of retired representatives became lobbyists.

Direct attack

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Gaetz then turned his ire on fellow Republican and House Ethics Committee chair Michael Guest, noting he had “become a brilliant stock trader while in office.”

The implication

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Gaetz claimed he wasn’t accusing Guest of insider trading, but made it clear he believed the House Ethics Committee chair had acted unethically.

Common practice

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As accountability organizations and financial trackers like Unusual Whales have noted, many legislators, Republican and Democrat, earn millions of dollars by trading on the stock market. It’s not illegal to trade while in office, but the skill of some legislators has sparked accusations of insider trading, such as using their knowledge of and influence over legislation to inform their stock trades.


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MSNBC noted the similarity between Gaetz’s CPAC rant and Trump’s tactic of making himself out to be the victim. “It seems Gaetz wants to convince the public that he’s the real victim,” the outlet concluded.

Unacceptable behavior

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“Matt Gaetz is gifted in his ability to draw attention to himself … he’s always been a showman,” Democrat Rebekah Jones told the Guardian. “The description of him as a performance character is far more apt to describe Matt Gaetz than as any legitimate politician or policymaker.”

Focusing on spectacle

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In May 2023, the Vanderbilt University’s Center for Effective Lawmaking ranked Gaetz 185th out of 222 House members. He introduced just ten bills, none of them classified by the center as “significant.”

One focus

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“He’s about clicks,” Republican Carlos Gimenez said. “He’s about how many cameras he can get shoved in his face, and he’s a historical figure because he caused [something] for the first time in history and all that. I think he gets off on that.”

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