Youthful-looking Matt Gaetz was an aspiring Congressman in the fall of 2016. A year later, the hot freshman Congressman from the Florida panhandle was preparing to seek a second term. The conservative-libertarian firebrand stood proudly on the national stage as a brash backer –some would say carnival barker — for then-president Donald John Trump. Gaetz, who comes from a wealthy, politically-connected Republican family, was also friends with a former Congressman turned Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, who is also close to Trump. I call them the Three Florida Amigos.
Apparently, a major “mainstream liberal” communications and media empire saw something they liked in Gaetz. Records from Friends of Matt Gaetz indicate that Comcast Corp & NBC Universal PAC – Federal, made at least $8,500 in donations to Rep. Gaetz from 9/29/16 to 7/24/18.
I wrote to the top press person at Comcast to find out what the sprawling company saw in Gaetz, who was only one of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. She did not reply. But I persisted, sending her a follow-up email with an out. I suggested my initial media query was lost in cyberspace. Jennifer Khoury still did not answer my questions, which included the following:
Why did the Comcast/NBC PAC give this money to a relatively new member of Congress?
Did anyone from the PAC or Comcast/NBC ever meet with Rep. Gaetz or communicate with him over the phone or email about proposed legislation? If so, what legislation?
Should NBC and MSNBC disclose these donations when reporters tell the public about the latest news in connection with Rep. Gaetz and alleged sex trafficking and other possible scandals?
What is your reaction to the apparent ongoing federal investigation into Rep. Gaetz?
Wise political hands understand that major players donate money to candidates to get “access” that may help them advance their interests. Gaetz, according to his website, sits on a committee, and two subcommittees, that could prove helpful to Comcast/NBC.
Comcast/NBC could not have known about the choice assignments before Gaetz won his election to Congress in November 2016. But it is certainly possible that lawyers, lobbyists, and executives found more reason to support Gaetz in his reelection bid. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Gaetz serves on the subcommittee on antitrust, commercial, and administrative law and the subcommittee on courts, intellectual property, and the internet.
The Comcast/NBC PAC is not responsible for the legal peril facing Gaetz. Press reports tell the public about allegations that Gaetz had sex with a minor and was involved with sex trafficking. The Congressman denies all accusations.
However, rumors about Gaetz and his sex life were discussed in Tallahassee, where Gaetz served in the state Legislature before his promotion to federal office. These rumors did not scare away the Comcast/NBC PAC or DeSantis, who named Gaetz to help head up the recruitment drive for the incoming administration.
So, I’ve got some new questions for Comcast/NBC. Did PAC officials do their due diligence before handing over money to Gaetz as he sought a Congressional seat and then fought to hold onto it? If they did, did they know about how Gaetz reportedly behaved in Tallahassee? If they did, why did the PAC keep giving Gaetz money?
Comcast/NBC PAC may not want to answer my questions. But Gaetz, in a March 5, 2020, article in The Daily Caller, announced he would no longer accept money from federal PACs. He also explained why he thought corporations gave him money.
He wrote, “The special interests in Washington, DC love the status quo. They thrive on a culture of corruption, pouring millions into the coffers of elected officials to have their interests placed above the interests of Americans. Their system of exchanging favors and access for money renders public service — which should be among the nation’s noblest professions — dangerously close to the oldest profession.
“This is why Federal PACS don’t want you looking behind the curtain at their corruption. They want you to chant ‘drain the swamp’ and then do nothing as they treat the swamp as their own luxury mud bath.”
Gaetz, perhaps not knowing federal investigators would seek to learn whether he exchanged money or other items of value for sex, made reference to the oldest profession when he slammed the corporate hands that fed his first two runs for Congress.
His conversion, though, raises interesting questions. Will Gaetz refund all the “swamp” money the federal PACs gave him before he saw the light and changed his ways? Will he cleanse himself of the corporate stench even as he pulls in money for his legal defense and public relations counterattack?