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Matt Gaetz could be in more hot water over latest ethics issue

Matt Gaetz could be in more hot water over latest ethics issue

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In a belated wedding gift for the recently married Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), The Daily Beast has discovered another federal violation committed by the voluble right-wing activist, adding to Gaetz’s legal woes which already include a federal investigation into the allegations that he transported a minor across state lines for sexual escapades.

The latest transgression that the Florida lawmaker is now accused of is his failure to disclose the income he received from a book that he published last September.

The alert journalists at The Daily Beast noticed that Gaetz had failed to mention any revenue derived from his book deal in his latest financial disclosures and had contacted the congressman’s office last week to inquire about it.

A spokesperson for Gaetz answered the publication’s query by replying that their office had requested “additional documentation” from the book’s publisher and was “in the process of receiving that information and amending the Congressman’s financial disclosure.”

In a suspiciously belated turn of events, Gaetz filed a revised financial disclosure just three days after The Daily Beast asked about the missing revenue in his initial filing. The representative’s office did not respond to the publication’s questions regarding details of the documentation and why Gaetz did not include them to begin with.

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Perhaps, Gaetz wanted to avoid making public the dismal proceeds he made on his poorly selling tome which, despite having a royalty rate twice that typical of standard hard-cover book deals and more in line with self-published works, seems to have only netted him an unusually round figure of $25,000, indicating anemic sales of less than 6,000 copies.

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The news of the belated revision to Gaetz’s financial disclosures and his stated royalty rate raises questions as to whether the Florida legislator had received the proper permission from House ethics officials who must approve any royalty deal that members of Congress may seek to enter into per the chamber’s rules.

If he did not, he could be subject to sanctions for his violation.

Gaetz’s quick revision of his filing, however, may have saved him from any potential repercussions from his lapse in reporting his income, according to Kedric Payne, general counsel and senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center.

“The law is clear that book royalty income must be disclosed. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a recent example when a lawmaker did not disclose such income,” Payne told The Daily Beast. “In practice, it is not expected that the Ethics Committee will seek any penalties against a member who files an amendment under these circumstances.”

“Filing an incomplete financial disclosure report is a violation of both the Ethics in Government Act and the House rules,” said Brett Kappel, a government compliance attorney at Harmon Curran. “The fact that Rep. Gaetz quickly filed an amended report, however, likely means he will suffer no consequences.”

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While Gaetz may escape being held responsible for his latest ethical lapse, at least he will suffer the embarrassment of the public disclosure of what a massive failure his literary efforts actually were — a not very surprising outcome considering his failures in the other areas in his life.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this latest scandal will be the one that gets Gaetz kicked out of Congress, but hopefully, the indictments related to his sex scandal will soon be forthcoming to complete the job.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter. 

Original reporting by Roger Sollenberger at The Daily Beast

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