Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s campaign spent thousands of dollars on lawyers, publicists and consultants as he deals with the fallout from his sex scandal, his latest campaign finance report shows.
Gaetz, 39, spent $25,000 on defense attorney Marc Fernich, whose past clients include Jeffrey Epstein, convicted drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and the recently convicted head of the NXIVM sex cult, Keith Raniere.
The Florida congressman also spent over $825,000 on the public affairs firm Logan Circle Group, which has handled his media strategy since The New York Times reported he was under federal investigation as to whether he paid an under aged girl for sex.
Finally there was a payment of $20,000 in four installments to Roger Stone for ‘strategic consulting.’ Stone, a longtime ally of Donald Trump who was pardoned by the former president, is a Florida resident and was convicted of lying to Congress.
The Gaetz campaign paid Stone’s company, Drake Ventures, in four separate chunks of $5,000. The first payment came about a week before the story broke on the federal pay-for-play investigation.
The Justice Department alleges Stone and his wife used Drake Ventures as an ‘alter ego’ in an attempt to ‘shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle.’
‘They used Drake Ventures to receive payments that are payable to Roger Stone personally, pay their personal expenses, shield their assets, and avoid reporting taxable income to the IRS,’ the Justice Department noted in a legal complaint.
Gaetz is spending more than he raised. He brought in $1.44 million in the second fundraising quarter but burned through $1.95 million between April 1 and June 30.
‘Our FEC filings speak for themselves,’ a Gaetz spokesperson told CNBC. ‘Despite an endless stream of lies from the media, Congressman Gaetz continues to be among the most prodigious fundraisers in Congress and is the only Republican who doesn’t accept donations from federal lobbyists or PACs. He thanks his tens of thousands of donors and promises to always fight for them.’
In March, the New York Times reported Justice Department was investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travels with him.
Gaetz’s former associate Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty in May to sex trafficking of a minor and five other charges, among the nearly three dozen he faced. His plea agreement with prosecutors requires continued cooperation with the ongoing probe.
Gaetz was not mentioned in Greenberg’s plea agreement. But Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an ongoing investigation into Gaetz’s supposed pay-for-sex relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
While not mentioning Gaetz by name, in his plea deal Greenberg said he ‘introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts.’
Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has denied any allegations of wrongdoing and has said repeatedly he will not resign from Congress. No charges have been brought against Gaetz.