Rep. Matt Gaetz declared that he would “absolutely not” resign from his seat in Congress in a new op-ed published almost a week after national news outlets reported he was under investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and for paying for sex with other women.
“Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal,” Gaetz wrote in the piece published Monday by The Washington Examiner.
Gaetz went on to characterize the accusations against him as a political attack.
“I want to be clear about something as we process the leaks and lies from the past week,” Gaetz wrote. “To this point, there are exactly zero credible (or even non-credible) accusers willing to come forward by name and state on the public record that I behaved improperly toward them, in the manner by which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has 10 accusers.”
The column from Gaetz published Monday was his first lengthy public statement since appearing on Fox News last week just hours after news broke about the investigation. Gaetz’s subsequent public remarks about the investigation have been limited to short statements from his office or posts on his Twitter account.
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into Gaetz’s relationship with a 17-year-old girl and whether he paid for her travel across state lines for sex, violating federal sex trafficking laws, multiple media outlets reported last week. Additionally, investigators are looking into alleged payments Gaetz made to other women in exchange for sex, according to reporting from The New York Times.
Gaetz has not been charged with a crime and has vehemently denied the allegations. He also hit back with his own claim that the investigation was being used to extort his family out of $25 million. The alleged extortion attempt came on March 16, about eight months after the Department of Justice reportedly began its investigation.
The extortion claim centered on three individuals, including Pensacola attorney David McGee, a former DOJ prosecutor in the 1980s and 1990s. Gaetz claimed the group said they needed the money to free former FBI agent Robert Levinson from captivity in Iran.
Levinson was declared dead by the U.S. government last year. McGee and his law firm Beggs & Lane issued a statement last week denying Gaetz’s allegations.
Gaetz made no mention of the extortion plot in his op-ed Monday. Instead, he wrote that the media was repeating false allegations that were nothing more than “a grown man” paying for an “adult girlfriend’s expenses” and that the allegations came out because he “decided to take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway.”
“Yes, just like the mafia, the D.C. swamp protects its ‘made men,'” Gaetz said. “Since I’m taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old.”
Gaetz said since becoming engaged, he has changed his lifestyle, but nothing he did before in his personal life was illegal.
“My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal,” Gaetz said. “Although I’m sure some partisan crooks in Merrick Garland’s Justice Department want to pervert the truth and the law to go after me, I will not be intimidated or extorted.”
Earlier Monday, retired Air Force Capt. Nathan Nelson, the former military affairs director for Rep. Matt Gaetz, told reporters he believes allegations surrounding Gaetz are false.
Nelson said FBI agents came to his home on Wednesday to question why he had resigned as military affairs director for Gaetz. Nelson said the FBI agents told him members of the national media were chasing leads that Nelson resigned because he knew about Gaetz’s illicit behavior.
“I’m here this morning to state that nothing could be further from the truth,” Nelson said. “Neither I nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz’s staff had any knowledge of illegal activities.”
Nelson said he left Gaetz’s office because of a planned departure to promote workforce development for the defense industry.
No news media outlets have reported that Nelson left his position with Gaetz over the investigation, but FBI agents asking him about it was enough for Nelson to declare all of the news reports on the investigation into Gaetz as baseless, he said.
“This baseless claim against me leaves me further convinced that the allegations against Congressman Gaetz are likewise fabricated and merely an attempt to discredit a very vocal conservative,” Nelson said.