GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz spent taxpayer money on a personal TV studio

Rep. Matt Gaetz.
(Image credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

For once, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) probably doesn't want anyone paying attention to him.

Gaetz, a vocal conservative and supporter of President Trump, appears to have violated House ethics rules with spending since last April, a Politico investigation has found. That includes installing a TV studio in his father's home and hiring a speechwriter who'd been ousted from the Trump administration, Gaetz's office confirmed.

Over the past year, Gaetz spent $28,000 in taxpayer money to an LLC company connected to Darren Beattie, a former White House aide who lost his job after appearing at a convention where white nationalists are known to speak, Gaetz's office told Politico. Gaetz announced his hiring of Beattie as a special adviser for speechwriting in April 2019, but never added him to an official payroll. Individual House members are barred from spending taxpayer money on the outside hiring of speechwriters, consultants, and communications advisers.

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Gaetz's office also acknowledged taxpayer money is used to rent a TV camera the congressmember keeps in his father's home and uses for TV appearances. A private company built him a studio as well, and takes a fee every time he appears on the air, Gaetz's office told Politico. Gaetz's office said the congressmember isn't involved in the rental costs, which don't appear on his official spending records, per Politico.

Regarding Beattie's hiring, Gaetz's office said his "contractual arrangement was approved by the necessary House authorities." But "a second review by the Finance Office determined that the services could not be contracted for in exactly that fashion," so they are working to correct the "glorified clerical error," Gaetz's chief of staff said. Kathryn Krawczyk

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the timeline of Gaetz's spending.

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.