- A new CNN report alleges Rep. Matt Gaetz was a long source of frustration for House GOP leadership.
- Staff for former House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly held a discussion with Gaetz during his first term.
- Two sources said the conversation was about “acting professionally” while in Congress.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Among the barrage of alleged scandals and controversies currently plaguing Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a new CNN report claims the Republican lawmaker received a “talking-to” about his brash behavior as a freshman lawmaker in DC.
Gaetz quickly made a name for himself as a conservative provocateur and Trump loyalist shortly after entering Congress in 2017. The 38-year-old became a brazen staple on Fox News and Newsmax, frequently causing frustration among Republican House leadership, according to CNN.
Behind the scenes, Gaetz earned a reputation as a showboat among his colleagues. As Insider previously reported, many of his fellow Republicans were gloating about recent news reports that he is under a DOJ investigation. Former Trump aides told Insider they “feel a little vindicated.”
“He’s the meanest person in politics,” one said to Insider’s Robin Bravender.
But a Thursday report from CNN suggests Gaetz has was a thorn in the side of GOP leadership.
According to the outlet, staff for then-House Speaker Paul Ryan held a short meeting with Gaetz in the Capitol during his first term. They reportedly had a discussion with the freshman lawmaker about “acting professionally while in Congress,” two sources with knowledge of the meeting told the outlet.
The discussion was not related to one specific incident, according to one of the sources, and Ryan did not personally lecture Gaetz.
A spokesperson for Gaetz rejected the account to CNN, denying that Gaetz was ever reprimanded by Ryan or his staff.
“That did not happen, no meeting with the speaker or his staff,” the spokesperson told the outlet.
A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and potentially violated federal laws against sex trafficking in the process. Since The New York Times reported the investigation earlier this week, Gaetz has faced further issues.
Gaetz on Wednesday claimed the DOJ’s investigation is part of “an organized criminal extortion” scheme against him led by a former DOJ prosecutor. In a series of tweets, he said he and his family have been cooperating with the FBI on the matter and he provided emails to Politico on Wednesday that appeared to back up his statements.
But, as Insider’s Sonam Sheth reported, it’s unlikely the sex-trafficking investigation is connected to the alleged extortion plot. The former was launched in the summer of 2020, months before Gaetz said his father was contacted and allegedly extorted.
The saga continued Thursday morning when CNN reported that the Justice Department is also investigating whether Gaetz used campaign funds to pay for travel and other expenses for women.
Later Thursday, a CNN report alleged Gaetz showed lawmakers nude photos of women he said he had slept with, and boasted about his sexual exploits. He reportedly showed off the photos both in private and on the House floor, according to the outlet.
CNN reported that there is no indication the photos in question are connected to the Justice Department investigation.
Sonam Sheth contributed to this report.