Matt Gaetz, Spreader of Wild Conspiracy Theories, Now Says He’s the Victim of Them

“I hear the millions of Americans who feel forgotten, canceled, ignored, marginalized and targeted.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a "Women for American First" event Friday, April 9, 2021, in Doral, Fla. Marta Lavandier/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Hours after the House Ethics Committed opened an investigation into him, embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) defiantly refused to admit wrongdoing and portrayed himself as a victim of left-wing “cancel culture” in a speech before Trump supporters in Florida on Friday.

It was Gaetz’s first major appearance since the news broke last week that he is under federal investigation for potentially violating sex trafficking laws, including offering gifts or money in exchange for sleeping with underage girls. “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz said at Trump National Doral Miami, the private club owned by the former president, at an event hosted by—wincingly—Women for America First, a conservative group. “The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild—and I mean wild—conspiracy theories.” (On Jan. 6, Gaetz voted to overturn the presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania following the insurrection at the Capitol based on wild conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud.)

In declaring his innocence, Gaetz cast himself as yet another victim of the culture wars, saying in Trumpish fashion that he would not “be intimidated by a lying media.”

“I may be a canceled man in some quarters,” he told roughly 50 Trump supported, described as largely maskless by the New York Times. “I may even be a wanted man by the deep state. But I hear the millions of Americans who feel forgotten, canceled, ignored, marginalized, and targeted.”

But Gaetz’s personal and legal troubles continue to escalate. He’s under Justice Department investigation for allegedly paying an indicted sex trafficker to arrange for him to sleep with underage women. And on Friday the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into a litany of allegations, including whether Gaetz “engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct.”

On Thursday Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) became the first GOP member of Congress to call on Gaetz to resign. “Matt Gaetz needs to resign,” Kinzinger tweeted, linking to a Daily Beast story describing how Gaetz paid $900 to an indicted sex trafficker, who the next morning sent the same amount to three young women.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate