Rep. Matt Gaetz slammed the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him over the weekend — as his pal prepares to plead guilty Monday to sex trafficking charges.
“I’m being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors,” the Florida Republican said Saturday at the Ohio Political Summit in Cleveland, according to NBC.
“Yet, Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors, through earmarks, and everybody knows that that’s the corruption,” the 39-year-old lawmaker told the crowd of over 400, which included both in-person and virtual attendees.
Earmarks refer to provisions that allow lawmakers to pad legislation with funds for their specific pet projects.
House and Senate Democrats initially voted to bring back earmarks earlier this year, and House Republicans followed shortly after, largely concluding that they should make sure their priorities get funded as well, despite concerns about the methods.
Senate Republicans, however, voted against doing so, citing the debt and other similar concerns to their House counterparts.
Gaetz has found himself embroiled in controversy since March, after the New York Times reported that the congressman was the subject of an investigation into whether he slept with a 17-year-old girl.
The FBI has reportedly questioned several women who claim they were paid to sleep with Gaetz and his friends in drug-fueled trysts.
The investigation stemmed from a probe into Joel Greenberg, a Gaetz ally charged last summer with sex trafficking, among other things.
Greenberg will plead guilty Monday morning to six felony charges against him. He was originally facing 33 federal charges.
Prosecutors will drop 27 of the charges for his cooperation in the probe, though he will still face upwards of 12 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender.
Gaetz vehemently denied the allegations, telling Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that his family had fallen victim to a $25 million extortion plot at the hands of a former Justice Department official.
That official, David McGee, a former federal prosecutor in Florida who is now working at the law firm Beggs & Lane, denies the extortion claims.
Gaetz also claimed the existence of the DOJ probe was leaked to the media in an effort to thwart the FBI investigation into the alleged extortion plot.
The GOP congressman — the son of Don Gaetz, a prominent former Florida politician — then told a stunned Carlson that his father had begun wearing a wire to assist the FBI in that alleged extortion probe.
On Friday, Gaetz was also accused of snorting cocaine and having sex with a reputed escort — who was later set up for a no-show government job by Greenberg, then the Seminole County tax collector.
Witnesses told the Daily Beast that the wild night of drugs and sex took place in October 2019 in Orlando, at the Westgate Lake Resort in Orlando where Gaetz was a featured speaker at a “Trump Defender Gala.”
Gaetz and the woman became allegedly more involved with one another after that evening, establishing a sex-for-cash relationship, the outlet reported.
The lawmaker has denied any wrongdoing.