Jul 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Gaetz reaches for Trump lifeline

Rep. Matt Gaetz is seen walking down a hall in Congress.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The campaign committee for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has enlisted a crew of prominent Trumpworld figures as he seeks re-election amid scandal and possible legal jeopardy, records reviewed by Axios show.

Why it matters: For a Republican in a party still dominated by the former president, little conduct could surpass fealty to Donald Trump in the minds of GOP voters. Newly released financial records show Gaetz, a steadfast ally of the former president, is leaning into that reputation amid scrutiny of his personal life.

What's new: The Gaetz campaign committee's second-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission shows sizable payments to a number of Trumpworld luminaries.

  • Former Trump campaign adviser and surrogate Harlan Hill is by far Gaetz's largest vendor. His firm, the Logan Circle Group, was paid about $737,000 in Q2, itemized as "advertising" and "strategic campaign consulting."
  • Gaetz's third-largest vendor was a consulting firm affiliated with Kash Patel, a former Trump Pentagon aide. The campaign's $120,000 in fundraising consulting payments to the firm, Trishul LLC, listed a D.C. address owned by Patel.

That's not all.

  • Gaetz's campaign has paid $20,000 this year to a Florida consulting firm called Drake Ventures LLC, which is run by Trump operative Roger Stone. The Justice Department recently accused Stone and his wife of using the company as a vehicle to evade taxes.
  • The campaign also paid a little over $6,000 to a security company called Viking Executive Protection.
  • It's the Florida division of the Colorado Security Agency, which ran security at Trump campaign rallies. CSA's vice president of business development is the former security supervisor at Trump’s D.C. hotel.

What they're saying: Asked about Stone's and Patel's work for the campaign, Hill sent a statement he requested be printed in full.

  • "Four months into a fake scandal cooked up by a corporate media who should be — and will be — apologizing for their conduct towards Rep Gaetz, they are now ‘reporting’ on financial expenses incurred as a result of their own smear campaigns. If we were them, we’d be worried about our own financial liabilities having repeatedly libelled (sic) and lied.”

The big picture: Gaetz has employed that roster of Trump-adjacent companies and individuals while seeking re-election amid scrutiny of his ties to an admitted child sex trafficker.

  • The congressman's onetime associate, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, has pleaded guilty to six criminal counts and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
  • The investigation is said to be looking into Gaetz's conduct, as well as larger allegations of corruption in central Florida political circles.
  • Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and alleged that a former Justice Department official attempted to extort him and his father with baseless allegations of criminal conduct.
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