Matt Gaetz attended 2017 party where minor and drugs were present, statement claims

ByWill Steakin ABCNews logo
Friday, April 19, 2024

The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether or not Rep. Matt Gaetz used illicit drugs as a member of Congress, multiple sources familiar with the committee's work told ABC News.

Committee investigators have inquired about whether Gaetz was under the influence of drugs at parties in Florida after becoming a member of Congress in 2017, according to the sources.

According to a sworn written statement that has been obtained by the Ethics committee, a woman says that in summer of 2017, when she was 20 years old, she attended a party in Florida that Gaetz also attended, which featured alcohol and drugs including cocaine and MDMA, sources familiar with the committee's work told ABC News.

In the sworn statement, which has not been previously reported, the woman said that in addition to Gaetz, the party was attended by the then-minor who was at the center of a yearslong Justice Department investigation into accusations that the Florida Congressman had sex with her when she was 17, according to sources.

According to the statement provided to the committee, sources said the woman who made the statement -- who ABC News is not identifying -- said she saw the then-minor naked at the party, which was also attended by adult men other than Gaetz, and that at the party there allegedly were bedrooms that were made available for sexual activities.

Gaetz has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing, including the allegations that he had sex with a minor. The Justice Department informed Gaetz in 2023 that it was declining to bring charges against him.

Though the statement obtained by Congress references Gaetz, it was not written specifically to the Ethics Committee and is not primarily about the congressman, and the woman does not discuss whether or not she had knowledge of Gaetz's alleged sexual relations with the then-minor, sources said.

When asked if Rep. Gaetz recalled attending the 2017 party, a spokesperson for the Florida Congressman told ABC News, "No." The spokesperson also said "no" when asked if Gaetz has used illicit drugs since becoming a member of Congress.

A representative for the House Ethics Committee declined to comment.

The sworn statement places Gaetz at a party with the then-minor, who Gaetz has denied ever having a relationship with and previously claimed "doesn't exist" when asked about the allegations on Fox News in March 2021.

"The person doesn't exist," Gaetz told Tucker Carlson. "I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old, that is totally false."

In March, Gaetz was subpoenaed as a witness by attorneys representing the former minor in a civil lawsuit brought by Gaetz's longtime friend, Chris Dorworth, who alleges he was defamed by her and others during the Justice Department's probe into the matter. Gaetz is not a party to the lawsuit. Gaetz's deposition is slated for June and could see the congressman asked under oath about allegations that he engaged in sexual activity with the woman when she was a minor.

Last week, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made headlines when he claimed he was ousted because he would not stop the ongoing House Ethics probe into Gaetz.

"I'll give you the truth why I'm not speaker," McCarthy said at an event at Georgetown University. "It's because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old."

Gaetz appeared to respond on X, formally known as Twitter, writing, "Kevin McCarthy is a liar. That's why he is no longer speaker."

The House Ethics probe into Gaetz has continued to move forward in recent weeks, with investigators reaching out to more individuals, including young women who were allegedly paid by Gaetz's one-time close friend Joel Greenberg to attend sex parties, sources said.

Committee investigators have asked witnesses whether they had seen or had knowledge of Gaetz using and or purchasing drugs himself, sources said.

News that the committee is asking questions about Gaetz and alleged drug use comes weeks after the Florida congressman grilled President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, about his own admitted drug use during a closed-door session with the House Oversight Committee.

During Hunter Biden's interview with the committee, Gaetz asked if was "on drugs" while serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The president's son responded, "Mr. Gaetz, look me in the eye. You really think that's appropriate to ask me?"

ABC News previously reported that the House Ethics Committee had subpoenaed Gaetz's ex-girlfriend for testimony, which she sat for in late February.

ABC News also reported that the committee had obtained texts allegedly showing Gaetz setting up a trip to the Florida Keys trip with a separate woman that Greenberg had paid for sex.

A spokesperson for Gaetz told ABC News at the time, "Rep. Gaetz has no knowledge of these activities by Mr. Greenberg and was not involved in them. Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex. Rep. Gaetz does not know anything about the woman you're referencing, though he takes thousands of selfies each year."

Gaetz has criticized the Ethics Committee for "trying to weaponize their process."

"The Ethics Committee is engaging in payback against me for ousting the person who singularly appointed every Republican -- Kevin McCarthy," Gaetz previously said in a statement to ABC News.

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