A Politico investigation found that Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz engaged in spending practices that broke the House of Representatives’ ethics rules on several occasions.
The new allegations of wrongdoing come after the House Ethics Office in June dropped an investigation into Gaetz’s district office in Pensacola, Florida, where he was accused of renting his office from a friend, advisor and donor following a separate Politico report.
Gaetz transferred tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, which was discovered after looking through the House’s disbursement report, to the company of a speech writing consultant who had been previously fired from the Trump administration, which may violate House rules, according to Politico’s Wednesday report. (RELATED: House Ethics Panel Investigating Matt Gaetz Over Cryptic Michael Cohen Tweet)
Gaetz admitted to sending $28,000 in taxpayer money to Darren Beattie, a far-right former White House aide, though his office said that it was an error that they were working to correct, Politico reported.
Beattie, a speechwriter, falls into the category of outside hires that lawmakers are explicitly prohibited from retaining with taxpayer funds, according to Politico.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 22, 2020
“A second review by the Finance Office determined that the services could not be contracted for in exactly that fashion, and our office is currently working through the best way to proceed with both Finance and the House Ethics Committee,” Gaetz’s chief of staff Jillian Lane Wyant told Politico.
“The funds were all immediately returned to the House as soon as the review determined this was not the right way to structure this. This is nothing more than a glorified clerical error – and while it is baffling that Politico should find this newsworthy – it is disappointing Politico plots to demean individuals who’ve made an innocent clerical mistake and are working to correct it,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement provided to both Politico and the Daily Caller News Foundation.
His office did not respond when asked how 14 separate payments on different days were classified as nothing more than a clerical error.
Taxpayer money has also gone to the private company that built a television studio in his father’s California home, according to Politico. Gaetz, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump and a frequent figure on cable news who has criticized lawmakers of both parties when on air, rents a camera each time he goes on air, which is paid for with office funds. He did not identify the company that built the studio, but the company takes a fee each time he goes on television, according to the report.
The House gift rule prohibits any lawmaker, staff or family member from accepting gifts worth more than $50, and the rule applies to a wide range of goods and services that have monetary value.
Gaetz’s office denied wrongdoing in each case, but didn’t provide evidence refuting the claims, Politico reported.
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