By Paula Reid | CNN
The House Ethics Committee investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz has reached out to an ex-girlfriend who was a key witness in the federal investigation into the Florida lawmaker, according to a source familiar with the ethics probe.
The outreach, which has not previously been reported, is a sign that the GOP-led committee’s investigation into the Florida Republican has recently expanded to include questioning around allegations of sex crimes, drug use and illicit benefits.
Gaetz said in a statement to CNN that the Ethics Committee investigation is “payback” for Gaetz’s efforts to oust Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker of the house, and that he sees “through this sham and the American people will too.” The Ethics Committee declined to comment.
The woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer, has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017. Investigators were interested in that time because that is when the congressman is accused of having sexual contact with another woman, who was 17 years old at the time. That federal probe concluded in 2023 with no charges brought against the congressman. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, including ever having sex with a minor or paying for sex.
The ex-girlfriend was granted immunity in the federal criminal probe and testified before a grand jury in January 2022. She is not expected to voluntarily cooperate with the Ethics probe.
CNN previously reported that the committee also recently reached out to that woman who was still 17 when she allegedly had sex with the congressman as part of its investigation.
They have also asked the Justice Department for materials related to its years long investigation, which included allegations he had sex with a minor.
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Gaetz, who led the charge to oust former McCarthy, has privately blamed McCarthy for the committee restarting its probe under the California Republican’s watch.
But McCarthy has repeatedly denounced those accusations and has said Gaetz worked to oust the former speaker because of the ethics probe.
“I don’t believe them to be conservatives,” McCarthy said in November, referring to the eight Republicans who voted to oust him. “It’s driven by Gaetz, and it was all based upon an ethics complaint that happened in the last Congress. He would throw his country away to try to protect himself for what would come out as the truth.”
CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.