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Ethics probe into Matt Gaetz now reviewing allegations of sexual misconduct and illicit drug use

Matt Gaetz speaks in front of a podium at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
John Raoux/AP
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AP
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2021, file photo, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.,, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The House Ethics Committee says it is investigating whether Gaetz engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, whether he accepted improper gifts and whether he sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct. Four other allegations are no longer being investigated.

The House Ethics Committee on Tuesday gave an unusual public update into its long-running investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., 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 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.

In a tweet 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 said on the social platform X.

Gaetz led the effort to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy from office last fall. Seven Republicans joined him in deposing McCarthy, along with 208 Democrats. Many House Republicans remain angry with Gaetz, arguing that McCarthys' ouster was a selfish and destructive act that hurt the party.

Gaetz blamed McCarthy for the Ethics Committee's review, even though the investigation began before Republicans took the majority in the House.

“This is Soviet. Kevin McCarthy showed them the man, and they are now trying to find the crime,” Gaetz wrote on X. “I work for Northwest Floridians who won’t be swayed by this nonsense and McCarthy and his goons know it.”

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 that 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 favors 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.