The daily beast
New documents show Matt Gaetz campaign in full damage control mode
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos GettyAs Rep Matt Gaetz combats allegations he was involved in a sex ring, the Florida Republican’s latest campaign fundraising report reflects a public relations rush that began even before that he admits to being at the center of a federal investigation. The record, which covers the three months between January and March, shows Gaetz incurred unprecedented fundraising expenses during a generally quiet period. Meanwhile, Gaetz dropped six figures on a direct mail blitz, spending more on fundraising services than he did in 2020. Gaetz also paid $ 5,000 in “strategic advice” fees to the famous political agent Roger Stone, and he has donated money to a number of Florida state GOP lawmakers that he has never supported before. The report also states that Gaetz – who cites his lack of friends in Washington as a point of pride – may be increasingly isolated; He received no input from his GOP colleagues. How scandal-plagued Matt Gaetz became ‘excommunicated’ to Fox News More than anything, the record reflects a concerted effort to build support before the creeping shadow of the investigation. Gaetz spent about $ 170,000 on direct mail this year, including $ 116,543 in one day on March 31. The day before, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department was investigating whether the third-term congressman had sex with a 17-year-old and paid for his trip, a possible violation of federal laws on sex trafficking, Gaetz has also invested heavily in fundraising, paying nearly $ 160,000 to Nevada-based Red Rock Strategies for fundraising advice. That’s about $ 10,000 more than the campaign spent on fundraising services in 2019 and 2020 combined, according to the Daily Beast’s analysis of deposits in the FEC database. Last week, Politico also reported that Gaetz recently spent six figures on television commercials against the charges. The 30-second spots, which are slated to air in his home district and on select national cable networks, call on supporters to “strike back” against “a multi-week cycle of fake news,” specifically targeting CNN. The ad purchases occurred after the quarterly filing deadline and are not included in the last report, but are expected to appear in the next filing, which is due in July. However, one expense in particular will raise eyebrows: a ” strategic policy advice ”fee of $ 5,000 to Drake Ventures, the company owned by Roger Stone, longtime artist and Gaetz partner. On Friday, the DOJ sued Stone and his wife, Nydia, alleging the couple owed millions in unpaid taxes and used Drake Ventures to house more than a million dollars. meeting in person with a former DOJ prosecutor, according to a person familiar with the meeting. In a bizarre March 31 interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Matt Gaetz claimed that his father recorded this conversation under FBI direction, alleging without evidence that the former prosecutor was at the center of a convoluted ploy to extort the congressman. The Gaetz campaign had never paid Drake Ventures until then. The report also suggests that Gaetz has few friends in Washington. While Gaetz has vowed not to donate corporate PACs, he has kept the door open for donations from nominee committees. But he has so far not reported any financial support in 2021 from friends in Congress such as Jim Jordan and Stephen Scalise, both of whom have donated to his 2020 campaign. And if he has donated 4,000 $ the same day to the senses. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in mid-February, Gaetz gave no money to any colleague in the House. donations to five GOP Florida State Senators Jan. 26. Gaetz had not donated to any of their campaigns before. One of the contributions reflects Gaetz’s ties to Joel Greenberg, his longtime friend whose federal indictment for a range of offenses, including sex trafficking – directed at the probe targeting Gaetz. The contribution went to Jason Brodeur, a longtime Gaetz ally who was also close to Greenberg through local GOP circles. Brodeur’s campaign has drawn close scrutiny for dirty tricks, including an alleged mock candidate ploy. Brodeur denied any involvement and won the race, now representing Seminole County of Greenberg at the state level. Gaetz also continued to rack up legal fees, a pattern established last summer as the DOJ would have been launched. The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that weeks after Greenberg’s first indictment – in June 2020 – Gaetz paid law firm Venable LLP $ 38,000, nearly four times the combined amount of legal fees incurred during the previous five years. The new filing reveals a payment of $ 21,000 to Venable in February, bringing the total legal fees to $ 85,000 since Greenberg was billed. Calb Burns, a partner at Wiley Rein specializing in campaign finance law, told the Daily Beast Legal Fee Peaks Often Are “The law allows candidates and office holders to use campaign contributions for legal fees that arise from their duties and responsibilities as a candidate and director,” Burns explained . “But if an official has a car accident on their way to the grocery store – which has nothing to do with their candidacy or tenure – the law prohibits the use of campaign funds to cover legal fees that result. Therefore, it is not uncommon for candidates and officials who come under scrutiny for their political activities to raise additional funds in their campaigns to help offset the associated legal fees. While the primary focus of the Gaetz investigation is supposed to focus on the sex trafficking allegations, CNN reported. Earlier this month, federal investigators are also examining campaign finance irregularities as part of their larger investigation. Gaetz can legally use his campaign coffers for these expenses. The congressman has already raised money through the scandal. On April 7, Talking Points Memo published a fundraising email in which Gaetz criticized “the New York Times far left” for reporting “salacious allegations against me in an attempt to end my career. by fighting for the forgotten men and women of this country ”. The email added that it was “too bad the left is trying to drag my love life into its political attacks,” and included a donation link asking supporters to “fight fake news.” Richard Bell, Gaetz’s donor, who featured in Congressman told the Daily Beast late last month that if he liked Gaetz’s politics since arriving in Washington, Gaetz “should pay the price.” if the allegations are true. Another recent donor, Jerry Klinger, who lives in Florida, told the Daily Beast he gave to Gaetz because he agreed with the Congressman’s “small government philosophy”. However, Klinger said that “the shadows that have since appeared may have given me pause to reconsider.” Klinger expressed skepticism about the merits of the DOJ’s investigation, and said he had “no objection” if Gaetz used his donation for legal fees. But he pointed out that the congressman comes from a wealthy and influential family. “If daddy wants to pay for a junior, that’s another story,” he said. Register now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.