Rep Matt Gaetz

On March 25, 2021, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted these prophetic words: “Deal. I want Gaetzgate.”

Well, it looks like he's getting just that. The 38-year-old, once poised as the right-wing populist successor of Donald J. Trump, is now under investigation for his involvement in trafficking and having sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl.

Since the March 30 New York Times article that reported on the Justice Department’s investigation of the congressman, Gaetz has been in the hot seat, destroying his reputation further and further with every uncovered tweet and spontaneous interview.

Instead of letting the investigation carry out as planned, Gaetz decided it would be best to use every opportunity to further implicate himself in things he wasn’t even being questioned on.

When Gaetz went on Fox News for an interview with Tucker Carlson, rather than defend himself from the accusations in a calm manner, Gaetz decided it was appropriate to indict his host as well, pointing out, “[I’m] not the only person on screen right now who's been falsely accused of a terrible sex act." 

Carlson — himself most known for defending white supremacy — called the interview “one of the weirdest” he’s “ever conducted.”

Since the interview, the story has further evolved to include Gaetz’s own accusations of extortion, Venmo transactions between Gaetz and accused sex trafficker Joel Greenberg, allegations from fellow lawmakers who say Gaetz showed off photos of his sexual partners in compromising positions and an unusual number of photos of Gaetz with high school and middle school-aged girls.

Each new thread unravels the mystery of the man Vanity Fair writer Bess Levin calls “the dumbest congressman alive.”

Traditionally, if you are under investigation for such a serious crime, you don’t use your platform to further implicate yourself and your colleagues. Gaetz clearly didn’t get that memo.

Instead, he chooses to embrace the talking points of the alt-right Q-Anon movement, decrying that he is a victim of unfound cancellation by the “deep state" — not because of serious accusations that he paid to transport a minor across state lines.

“I may be a canceled man in some corners. I may even be a wanted man by the Deep State,” Gaetz tweeted on April 10. “But I hear the millions of Americans who feel forgotten, canceled, ignored, marginalized and targeted. I draw confidence knowing that the silent majority is growing louder every day.”

How ironic for a politician who echoes the talking points of Q-Anon — itself built on the idea that pedophiles have infiltrated the government — to be accused of the very crime he claims to stand against.

Gaetz is choosing to portray serious sex crime accusations as a political smear on himself and his party. Too bad the investigation was started by a Gaetz-friendly Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr.

Are we really surprised that Gaetz is playing damage control now? This is the same guy that was the sole dissenting vote on a 2017 anti-human trafficking bill, claiming it was because he was put in office to limit the power of the federal government.

It looks like it wasn’t staunch libertarian beliefs that left Gaetz’s “nay” vote alone in a series of “yeas," but a vested interest in the proliferation of human trafficking.

Florida’s own ‘Butt-Head got his Gaetzgate, and instead of sitting back and letting it run its course, he decided to deflect blame and dig himself into the hole his public career may very well die in. So much for a man that led CPAC on a platform of “Uncanceled.”

Domenic Purdy is a 20-year-old journalism sophomore from Prairieville.

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