The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos GettyAs Rep. Matt Gaetz combats allegations that he was concerned in a intercourse ring, the Florida Republican’s newest marketing campaign finance report displays a public relations scramble that started even earlier than he acknowledged being the main focus of a federal investigation.The submitting, which covers the three months between January and March, reveals that Gaetz has incurred unprecedented fundraising bills throughout a usually quiet interval. In that point, Gaetz dropped six figures on a unsolicited mail blitz, shelling out extra for fundraising providers than he did in all of 2020.Gaetz additionally paid $5,000 in “strategic consulting” charges to infamous political operative Roger Stone, and he gave cash to a quantity of GOP Florida state lawmakers that he’s by no means supported earlier than. The report additionally signifies that Gaetz—who cites his lack of pals in Washington as some extent of delight—could also be more and more remoted; he’s obtained no contributions from his GOP colleagues.How Scandal-Plagued Matt Gaetz Became ‘Excommunicado’ at Fox NewsGreater than something, the submitting displays a concerted effort to bolster assist forward of the creeping shadow of the investigation. Gaetz has spent roughly $170,000 on unsolicited mail outreach this 12 months, $116,543 of it on someday—March 31. The earlier day, The New York Times broke the information that the Justice Department was wanting into whether or not the third-term congressman had intercourse with a 17-year-old and paid for her journey, a potential violation of federal sex-trafficking legal guidelines.Gaetz has additionally invested closely in fundraising, paying Nevada-based Red Rock Strategies practically $160,000 for fundraising consulting. That’s roughly $10,000 greater than the marketing campaign spent on fundraising providers in 2019 and 2020 mixed, based on The Daily Beast’s evaluation of filings within the FEC database.Last week, Politico additionally reported that Gaetz lately spent six-figures on TV advertisements punching again in opposition to the accusations. The 30-second spots, slated to run in his panhandle residence district and on choose nationwide cable networks, ask supporters to “fight back” in opposition to “a multi-week fake news cycle,” concentrating on CNN particularly. The advert buys got here after the quarterly submitting deadline and aren’t included within the newest report, however ought to seem within the subsequent submitting, which is due in July.However, one expense specifically will increase eyebrows: A $5,000 “strategic political consulting” payment to Drake Ventures, the corporate belonging to longtime GOP smear artist and Gaetz affiliate Roger Stone. On Friday, the DOJ sued Stone and his spouse, Nydia, alleging that the couple owes hundreds of thousands in unpaid taxes and have used Drake Ventures to shelter greater than $1 million.The marketing campaign paid Stone’s firm on March 24, simply days earlier than Gaetz’s father held an in-person assembly with a former DOJ prosecutor, based on an individual conversant in the assembly. In a weird March 31 interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Matt Gaetz claimed that his father recorded that dialog on the course of the FBI, alleging without proof that the previous prosecutor was on the middle of a convoluted scheme to extort the congressman. The Gaetz marketing campaign had by no means paid Drake Ventures till then.The report additionally means that Gaetz has few pals in Washington. While Gaetz swore off donations from company PACs, he saved the door open to donations from candidate committees. But he has thus far reported no monetary assist in 2021 from pals in Congress similar to Jim Jordan and Stephen Scalise, each of whom donated to his 2020 marketing campaign. And whereas he made same-day $4,000 donations to Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in mid-February, Gaetz didn’t give cash to any House colleagues.Gaetz did, nevertheless, ship out $1,000 donations to 5 GOP Florida state senators on Jan. 26. Gaetz hadn’t donated to any of their campaigns beforehand.One of the contributions displays Gaetz’s ties to Joel Greenberg, his longtime pal whose federal indictment on a spread of offenses—together with intercourse trafficking—led to the probe concentrating on Gaetz. The contribution went to Jason Brodeur, a longtime Gaetz ally who was additionally shut with Greenberg by native GOP circles. Brodeur’s marketing campaign drew scrutiny for soiled tips, together with an alleged sham candidate scheme. Brodeur has denied involvement and went on to win that race, now representing Greenberg’s Seminole County on the state stage.Gaetz has additionally continued to rack up authorized charges, a sample established final summer season across the time the DOJ investigation was reportedly launched. The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that weeks after Greenberg was first indicted—in June 2020—Gaetz paid the legislation agency Venable LLP $38,000, practically 4 occasions the mixed quantity of authorized charges incurred within the earlier 5 years. The new submitting reveals a $21,000 cost to Venable in February, bringing whole authorized bills as much as $85,000 since Greenberg was charged.Caleb Burns, a associate at Wiley Rein who focuses on marketing campaign finance legislation, instructed The Daily Beast that spikes in authorized charges are sometimes accompanied by a parallel spike in fundraising.“The law permits candidates and officeholders to use campaign contributions for legal expenses that arise from their candidate and officeholder duties and responsibilities,” Burns defined. “But if an officeholder gets into a car accident on the way to the grocery store—which has nothing to do with running for or holding office—the law bars the use of campaign funds to cover any resulting legal expenses. Therefore, it is not uncommon for candidates and officeholders facing scrutiny for their political activities to raise additional funds into their campaigns to help offset associated legal expenses.”While the thrust of the Gaetz investigation is alleged to give attention to the intercourse trafficking allegations, CNN reported earlier this month that federal investigators are additionally inspecting marketing campaign finance irregularities as half of their broader inquiry. Gaetz can legally faucet his marketing campaign coffers for these bills.The congressman has already raised cash from the scandal. On April 7, Talking Points Memo revealed a fundraising e-mail through which Gaetz slammed “The far-left New York Times” for reporting “salacious allegations against me in an attempt to end my career fighting for the forgotten men and women of this country.” The e-mail added that it was “a shame that the Left tries to drag my dating life into their political attacks,” and included a donation hyperlink asking supporters to “fight back against the fake news.”Gaetz donor Richard Bell, who gave to the congressman late final month, instructed The Daily Beast that whereas he has appreciated Gaetz’s insurance policies since he arrived in D.C., Gaetz “should pay the price” if the allegations are true.“I know there is a big expense in defending and felt I wanted to help out,” Bell stated.Another current donor, Florida resident Jerry Klinger, instructed The Daily Beast that he gave to Gaetz as a result of he agreed with the congressman’s “small-government philosophy.” However, Klinger stated that “the shadows that have come out since may have given me pause to reconsider.”Klinger expressed skepticism concerning the deserves of the DOJ investigation, and stated he has “no objection” if Gaetz makes use of his donation for authorized bills. But he pointed out that the congressman comes from a rich and influential household.“If daddy wants to pay for junior, that’s a different story,” he stated.Read extra at The Daily Beast.Get our prime tales in your inbox day-after-day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the tales that matter to you. Learn extra.