There are new signs today that the House Ethics Committee investigation into Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz may not be as dead in the water as most of us assumed it was, with Republicans in control of the House and laser-focused on obstructing investigations into Republican corruption rather than furthering them.
Gaetz must have royally pissed someone off, because CNN is now reporting that Ethics Committee investigators "have begun reaching out to witnesses as part of a recently revived investigation" into the Florida man. The original investigation began in 2021, when Democrats were still in control of the House.
As for which House "ethics" Gaetz is accused of, breaching, the CNN story evades the details so that stray internet children don't get an eyeful of them, but Gaetz was caught up in the corruption scandal centered on ex-Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, who was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor, wire fraud, bribery, and other crimes. That investigation resulted in accusations that Gaetz had, with Greenberg's assistance, paid at least 15 women for sex, including at least one who was underage at the time. Reporters soon found enough witnesses to report Gaetz's 2019 use of an Orlando hotel room for a cocaine-fueled sex party. Gaetz has also been caught in a bizarre bit of apparent campaign money laundering and, well, take your pick.
The Department of Justice originally asked the House Ethics Committee to suspend its own investigation while federal law enforcement investigated those and other charges, but eventually decided to close the investigation without charges. That frees House investigators to resume their work, and apparently they ... might actually be doing it now?
Before you get carried away, note that CNN reports House investigators focused their questions on "possible lobbying violations" in their interview with CNN's anonymous source. That doesn't necessarily mean that House Republicans are still holding off on investigating the charges that one of their most notorious members is a sex-trafficking cocaine fiend, but a cynic might point out that a Republican-neutered Ethics Committee might be more eager to launch a hard-nosed probe of financial violations than to poke the hornet's nest of who, in their House Republican ranks, is spending their off time attending conservative coke orgies.
We shall see. In the meantime, Gaetz himself seems quite eager to divert attention elsewhere. On Tuesday he appeared on conspiracy network Newsmax, where he engaged in another bit of Russian boosterism while sniffling at Ukraine's bid for NATO membership.
"Why would you pick Ukraine? Why not extend NATO to Russia and make it an anti-China alliance?" Gaetz asked stupidly. "Are we really thinking that we're more afraid of the broke-down tanks from Russia than the fact that China is building a secret military base on the island of Cuba, 90 miles away from the United States?"
I'm not sure he's going to win any Putin Points for mocking the Russian army as "broke-down," as accurate as that may be. But does Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida really not know why NATO might not be eager to add a kleptocratic mob state to the alliance's rosters? A kleptocratic dictatorship that is currently engaged in an attempted European war of conquest, no less?
Look, I think we can all understand why the alleged cocaine orgy guy still has a soft spot for Vladimir Freaking Putin, but he might want to rein it in a bit while his fellow Republicans are deciding what to do about him. It's still likely that Republicans will sweep every ethics allegation against Gaetz back under the rug, once they've done enough due diligence to assure themselves that his scandals remain sweepable, but Gaetz has clearly pissed enough of his colleagues off that it's not a sure thing.
It'd be a real hoot if House investigators decided to interview former Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn for his thoughts on Washington, D.C., cocaine orgies, while they're at it. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on that wall?
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