Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has served Florida’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017. Known for sparking controversy, he ran for reelection in 2022 with Trump’s endorsement and won with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
In 2021, Gaetz was under federal investigation for child sex trafficking stemming from allegations that he and former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg met underage women through the internet and paid them to cross state lines to have sex with them. Greenberg pleaded guilty and cooperated with federal prosecutors in the investigation, while Gaetz denied all claims of misconduct and instead requested a preemptive pardon from Trump before he left office in 2021.
Prior to serving in Congress, Gaetz worked as a lawyer and was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2010–16. He has branded himself as an “outspoken conservative firebrand” and has long been a staunch supporter and defender of Trump. When Rolling Stone magazine called him the “Trumpiest Congressman,” he considered it a “badge of honor.”
Speaking at a Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in July 2022, Gaetz drew widespread derision on social media for fat-shaming a teenage abortion rights activist. “Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?” he asked the crowd at the summit before adding: “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”
January 6, 2021
- Just hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Gaetz joined 146 other congressional Republicans in refusing to certify Biden’s win of the 2020 presidential election.
- Gaetz voted against impeaching Trump for his role in instigating the attack on the Capitol and fanning the flames once the riot broke out. Among the barrage of invective he let loose mocking and lambasting congressional Democrats, he said, “This is a DEEPLY unpopular impeachment. The American people wish we were here dealing with coronavirus, not the virus of Trump hatred… a virus Democrats seem to have found no vaccine for.”
- Gaetz voted against establishing a House committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack and called for law enforcement bodies to handle it instead.
- In June 2021, Gaetz claimed, without offering any evidence, that “FBI operatives organized and participated in the January 6th Capitol riot.”
- In June 2021, Gaetz was one of 21 congressmen to vote no on a bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to Capitol Hill Police officers defending the congressional members and staffers during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
- In October 2021, Gaetz testified against holding longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. He later voted against holding former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for also failing to cooperate with the committee.
- In December 2021, Gaetz held a press conference with fellow GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) to criticize what they saw as overly harsh treatment of Jan. 6 insurrectionists.
- On December 15, 2021, Gaetz was reported to be one of several sitting members of Congress who communicated with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 6. According to documents Meadows provided the House Select Committee, he had coordinated with pro-Trump rioters seeking advice during the insurrection and received messages about alleged plans for Republican state legislators to send purported “alternate slates” of electors to Congress, among other claims.
- An ad by the Republican Accountability Project pointed out that a Gaetz speech at a Turning Point USA event in which he said “more bad behavior is what we need” was rhetoric that contributed to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The Big Lie
- In September 2020, the FEC unanimously rejected a complaint filed by Gaetz in which he alleged that Twitter had interfered with the election by affixing “fact-check” labels to some of Trump’s tweets.
- In November 2020, Gaetz argued that Republicans will never win “another national election again” if mail-in ballots are permitted, and called on Republicans to “stand and fight” against the practice.
- On Nov. 7, 2020, Gaetz criticized fellow Republicans for “throwing in the towel” if they acknowledged Biden’s victory.
- Gaetz claimed that Republicans had proven multiple forms of election fraud in 2020, but were not getting the “remedies” they needed from the courts. The congressman specifically focused on mail-in ballots, claiming without evidence that “someone should only get a ballot in the mail if they asked for one but Democrats were able to create this universe of millions of ballots” that “aren’t attached to a human.”
- Again, without evidence, he claimed that one of the biggest sources of election fraud in 2020 was “tens of thousands of voters that have moved out of their state and they’ve literally filled out change of address forms and yet they’re voting in their old state.”
- Gaetz staged a rally on May 21, 2021, in Maricopa County Arizona in support of the 2020 presidential election audit organized by Arizona Senate Republicans. At the event, he promised that “Arizona will be the launchpad” for other election audits.
- He signed a letter with fellow Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) criticizing Arizona Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan for expressing concern over the state’s 2020 election audit.
- Gaetz joined the same House members in signing another letter to the Department of Justice complaining that it had unjustly threatened Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) for her role in overseeing the state’s 2020 election audit.
- In July 2021, Gaetz claimed that audits in Georgia and Arizona would reveal “a pattern of nationwide election fraud.”
Post-2020 Election Subversion
- Gaetz co-sponsored the Protecting Our Democracy by Preventing Foreign Citizens from Voting Act, which would restrict federal funding to states and local governments that have allowed foreign citizens to vote.
- Gaetz co-sponsored the Vote Outcome Transparency in Elections Act (the VOTE Act), which requires state and local election officials overseeing a polling place to submit reports on the tabulation of ballots within one hour of closure of the polling place.
Top contributors for the 2020 election cycle.
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