But He Was Always Nice to Me: Matt Gaetz Edition

But He Was Always Nice to Me: Matt Gaetz Edition
Image:OLIVIER DOULIERY (Getty Images)

Last week, news broke that Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz is under investigation by the Department of Justice for allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and violated sex trafficking laws when he paid sex workers from a sugar daddy website. Now, the women who work under him are calling bullshit because… they manage his schedule?

On Thursday, the “Women of the U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz’s Office” released a statement defending their boss as a lovely man whose behavior doesn’t match up to the sexual misconduct allegations against him. Who are these women? Great question. The statement doesn’t bother telling us their names.

The statement reads as follows (emphasis ours):

“After the shocking allegations last week in the press, we, th women of Congressman Matt Gaetz’s office, feel morally obligated to speak out. During Congressman Gaetz’s time in office, we have been behind the scenes every step of the way. We have staffed his meetings. We have planned his events. We have traveled with him. And we have tracked his schedule. Congressman Gaetz has always been a principled and morally grounded leader. At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. No hint of impropriety. No ounce of unthruthfulness.
In our office and under Congressman Gaetz’s leadership, women are not only respected, but have been encouraged time and time again to grow, achieve more, and ultimately, know our value. Many of us started in entry-level positions and have been promoted to positions of leadership within the office. In our professional ecosystem, women are given every opportunity to advance and utilize our talents to help the country in the best possible way.
On every occassion he has treated each and every one of us with respect. Thus, we uniformly reject these allegations as false.
Congressman Gaetz will continue to lead by example and stand for the people of America who have been maligned by the liberal elite. And we will stand with him. While we recognize the scrutiny we will face for making this decision, we take comfort in the hope that more Americans and elected officials will stand up and refuse to remain silent.”
—The Women of the Office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz

Of course, none of this negates any of the DOJ’s accusations against Gaetz—treating the women in his office with respect doesn’t mean he couldn’t have possibly had a relationship with a 17-year-old or paid for sex. And insisting that Gaetz encourages women to know their value falls flat given the allegations that he shared nude photos of women he claimed to have had sex with to his fellow lawmakers and boasted of his sexual conquests in the workplace.

The most pathetic part of all of this is the last sentence, bravely acknowledging the “scrutiny” they will face and hoping that Gaetz’s colleagues will step up to defend him. Aside from the fact that defending a powerful man accused of sexual misconduct isn’t brave, how much courage can be asserted if no one’s name is attached to this fawning testimony? At least when that cadre of 65 women released a statement combating the sexual assault allegations that dominated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, they had the nerve to sign their names. In the case of Gaetz, it’s unclear who these women are, how many women there are, and whether all the women in the office even agreed to this statement.

And any hopes of Gaetz’s fellow Republican lawmakers jumping to his defense is a pipe dream. Only a handful have bothered, while the majority aren’t touching this with the 10-foot stick. Even the Trump White House wasn’t interested in giving Gaetz a get-out-of-jail-free card, despite his loyalty to the former president: Gaetz reportedly requested a blanket pardon from Trump before he left office, a request the Trump White House denied.

When even the collection of ghouls that make up the Republican party aren’t really denying Gaetz is a creep, it’s unlikely a statement from some undefined number of nameless women will help his cause. Maybe his fiance can write a letter swearing he’s a nice guy.

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