It’s safe to say that Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump and fierce opponent of the Democratic agenda, hasn’t made too many friends among the political establishment either in Washington or in his home state of Florida.
Now, in the wake of allegations of a sex scandal that has dominated headlines, it seems even some of Gaetz’s biggest supporters are preparing to jump ship in the event that he’s removed — or resigns — from his House seat, the Washington Examiner reports.
“They’re already talking about who’s going to take his seat,” one source said of Florida Republicans, according to the Examiner. “The vultures are circling.”
Congress weighs consequences
It was first revealed in a New York Times report last week that Gaetz was a subject of a federal investigation into claims that he “had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him” across state lines.
Gaetz, for his part, has fervently denied the allegations and insisted that they are part of a bizarre extortion scheme being led by an ex-federal prosecutor.
In the meantime, however, talk seems to be growing in Washington about his dismissal. According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for Gaetz to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee and, if the claims prove true, removed from his committee assignments — if not Congress altogether.
Gaetz says he won’t go
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) similarly told Fox News that if the “serious” allegations are true, he would support removing Gaetz from his assigned committees.
Through it all, Gaetz has remained defiant, however.
According to The Hill, the congressman insisted Friday that he had no intention whatsoever of resigning from Congress — even as one of his top aides, communications director Luke Ball, had stepped down from his role earlier that day.
Talk about replacements
If Gaetz is ultimately kicked out of Congress or otherwise compelled to resign from his seat representing the 1st District in Florida’s Panhandle, state law calls for a special election to be held to fill the spot.
With the door still open for that reality, the Washington Examiner reports that talk is growing among local Republicans in the congressman’s home state about backing a replacement for him.
“They’re making the assessment that it’s going to be very difficult for Matt to come out of this,” one source close to members of the Florida GOP said, according to the Examiner. “They love the guy, and they’ve been there for him. And they’re shaking their heads going, ‘Ugh.’”