Matt Gaetz said his “travel record” exonerated him. They don’t.


Caroline Breman

Caroline Breman

When it was first revealed last week that Congressman Matt Gaetz was investigating sexual involvement with a 17-year-old man, Florida Republicans said his travel records would exempt him.

“It’s a horrifying claim, it’s a lie,” Gates told Tucker Carlson on Fox News a week ago. “”New York Times I’m running a story about traveling with a 17-year-old woman, which is definitely wrong. People can look at my travel records and find out that they aren’t. “

What Gates knew or should have known There is no such official recordAt least not for his private life.

However, there is a campaign submission.Inside Revelation of all Matt Gaetz last week The news was that the Justice Department was investigating the potential use of the Florida Republican Party. Election funds for personal expenses.. And the reality of those election funding reports is that they raise more questions than they answer about these alleged scandals.

“The spending surrounding the Gates campaign just doesn’t say what he wants to say,” Jordan Revolving, director of public communications for responsibility and ethics in Washington, the watchdog of election funds, told The Daily Beast. Told. “One is that the report does not provide any specific information. And second, it is not clear if he even says that his campaign submission would exempt him. He If you’re paying at your own expense, you won’t know the answer without a subpoena. “

As Gates knows, there is no information in his campaign filings to prove that he has never participated in sex rings or paid for a minor’s trip. .. However, his filings show that Gates had a close relationship with Joel Greenberg, a Seminole County tax collector charged with sexual trafficking.

The Daily Beast Reported last week On Sunday, September 2, 2018, Greenberg asked one of the tax office employees to create a Gates emergency replacement driver’s license stating that he had lost his ID the night before.

“Amy-Is there a way to help one of the MPs get an emergency replacement ID or DL ​​by 2 pm on Tuesday?” Greenberg wrote in the text.

However, Gates is not a resident of Seminole County. According to the initial information on the county driver’s license website, the office “only processes” Seminole County Residents “for all driver’s license or ID card services. There are no exceptions. The site tells applicants that if they are unable to provide proof of residence, they will not be provided with a driver’s license or ID card service ticket.

The website also reveals that the county office “is not directly affiliated with the local Florida Driver’s License Office” and is only functioning to “perform a very limited licensing function.” I am.

Seminole County is located in the heart of the outskirts of Orlando, a few hours from Gates’ Panhandle district. Monday was Labor Day, and Congressman flew back to Washington, DC on Tuesday after campaigning across his home district for his November reelection.

However, the August and September campaign FEC declarations revealed only one cost to Orlando vendors. That’s a $ 439.91 charge to a luxury company. Rosen Center Hotel, Was paid on September 28th as part of the campaign’s monthly credit card bill. You will not know the exact date of your stay unless Gates creates a receipt or DOJ creates a subpoena.

Liebowitz said hotel costs were “difficult to realize” under the Election Funding Act, which prohibits the conversion of funds into personal use.

“It makes sense that he had to get an ID,” Libowitz said. “But I don’t know why a sitting parliamentarian can’t do it himself in his county and why he has to hire a friend to do it for him.”

As Libowitz pointed out to The Daily Beast, filing doesn’t tell a complete story. “Campaign finance can only be used for election efforts. Therefore, under the theory that he went to Orlando to illegally obtain a license, he would file a difficult proceeding, that is, state law. It’s appropriate to use your campaign to avoid it, “he said. “And that’s not straightforward.”

According to a review by The Daily Beast, the Friends of Matt Gaetz has spent the past four years on airfares of about $ 57,000, accommodations of $ 57,000, other trips of $ 9,000, gifts of $ 40,000, and meals. Spent about $ 24,000.

All of these costs can be justified. The Gates campaign did not answer The Daily Beast’s question about spending. But when DOJ looks at his election funding report, many accusations can be difficult to explain.

Perhaps the most mysterious is the parking fee, which is one of his smallest.

During the break in August 2018, Gates’ car seems to have been parked at the airport. Gates paid on Thursday, September 13, 2018 $ 382 Check out the Republic Parking Lot at his hometown of Pensacola International Airport. The highest rate at the time was $ 11 a day, indicating that the car had been parked for over a month. (The garage manager in question told The Daily Beast that their system wasn’t multiple cars because the ticket can only run one car at a time.)

The filing indicates that the payment was from Gates himself and he was refunded later that day.

In particular, in the four-year financial record, the Gates campaign does not pay parking fees elsewhere at any other time.

“That’s strange,” Libowitz said. “Maybe he will let someone drop him off or take a shuttle or euber, and if someone picks up the car, why will Gates be refunded? This needs explanation.”

Gates campaign is also about in total $ 3,000 The FEC Filing Show will begin in July 2018 at the 4-star Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, California. Gates himself made a prepayment for his first visit and then was refunded by the campaign.But only the public report The campaign-related Gates sightings in the region came from a speech at the Freedom Forum in Newport Beach on October 26, 2020. The FEC filings reflect the $ 475 payment to the resort three weeks later.

Brendan Fisher, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, a government oversight agency, said the FEC wants a campaign to clarify not only the date the invoice was paid, but also the date of the first transaction. I told Beast. Gates cannot use public records to clear itself without disclosing certain dates and expenses.

“This is what FEC should catch,” Fisher said. “It’s hard to tell face-to-face who was traveling for what purpose. Therefore, when it’s very difficult to tell the difference between legitimate expenses and the use of personal funds from public reports alone. there is.”

Mr Fischer said these anomalies were “like the prosecutor’s consideration” because they could indicate the personal use of election funds prohibited by federal law.

“If DOJ is investigating spending on his campaign, they are very likely to look for documents to support his own costs and reimbursement,” Fisher said. “Although election funds are allowed to be used to pay for travel and office expenses, they are not allowed to be used as a slush fund for’Sugar Daddy’. “

One of the spending items that has surged recently is statutory costs. In June 2020, the month following Greenberg’s first indictment, Gates paid law firm Venable LLP. $ 38,000, Almost four times the amount paid to law firms in the last five years.Overall, the campaign is at least $ 64,400 Venable for legal affairs since Greenberg was indicted.

salon report In October, the Trump Organization seems to have reduced illegal lover transactions when Gates stayed at the Trump International Hotel.Gates said later Florida phoenix, “I don’t think I stayed there”, and it 4 separate ratesBetween $ 216.20 and $ 261.47, part of the August 27 credit card bill and specially designated for accommodation, may be “related to eating and drinking at the political conference I was attending.” there is.

The campaign was submitted immediately Fixed report This changed the payment date to 3 days from July 27th to 29th and changed to another date on August 1st. In the report, “accommodation” was replaced with “meal.” Instagram since it was deleted Photo He showed Gates in the hotel lobby on August 27, the original payment date. Photo shoot On August 27, I arrived at the hotel with something that looked like a suit.

The campaign also raised $ 14,000 for the November 8, 2019 event for the signing of Trump Jr.’s book at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Ali Thomas, a staff member of Gates’ Parliamentary Secretariat, apparently joined him for the trip and was reimbursed for nearly $ 1,000.

Thomas began his year as an intern at $ 57 a day and by November 1st he had become an operations director with a salary of $ 84,000. She still holds that position. This was the only campaign to refund her, according to the FEC report.

Again, there’s nothing unpleasant about submitting Gates campaigns. However, many of his most suspicious spending may require additional explanation, given the information that DOJ is investigating his campaign spending as part of a larger investigation. But even if all of his submissions are legal, he paid at age 17 to travel for the purpose of illegal sexual encounters, especially if those costs could have been paid privately. It is not certain to exempt him from the allegations.

These problems are Minimal worries about GatesEven if it’s difficult to prove, they can still help to offend.

Liebowitz claims Gates’ innocence by pointing out the case of Duncan Hunter (Republican), who was convicted of diverting hundreds of thousands of election funds for his personal use in January 2020. I explained the difficulty of confirming the facts. His organization, CREW, kicked off with complaints about election funding.

“The FBI and DOJ went back many years and found more than twice what we found,” Libowitz said. “There are limits to what we can learn from financial statements, and without a subpoena or a clear explanation from him, I don’t think we can find a gun that smokes in either direction, but my specialty. In experience, parliamentarians who do one bad thing tend to do a lot of bad things. “

For more information, see The Daily Beast.

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