Embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) defended himself against allegations of sex trafficking and a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl with a defiant op-ed in which he declared he was “absolutely not resigning” from Congress.
“Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal,” Gaetz, a close ally of ex-President Donald Trump, began his column in The Washington Examiner on Monday.
“Since I’m taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old,” wrote Gaetz.
The Florida Republican characterized the federal investigation that has reportedly ensnared him as a political attack on “a congressman who loathes the swamp and fights both sides of it on a daily basis.”
“My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal,” said Gaetz. He added that it “comes as no surprise that my political opponents want to sensationalize and criminalize my prior sex life just as I am getting engaged to the best person I’ve ever known. “
“My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal,” he added.
The New York Times reported last week that federal authorities are investigating whether Gaetz paid for the teenager to travel across state lines, which would violate sex trafficking laws.