Gaetz feels more heat for fiery Cohen tweet, Florida Bar opens investigation after flood of complaints

The Florida State Bar Association has reportedly opened an ethics investigation following the “high volume of calls and emails” about Rep. Matt Gaetz.

“The Florida Bar is aware of the comments made in a tweet yesterday by Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is a Florida Bar member, and I can confirm we have opened an investigation,” Francine Andía Walker, the Florida Bar’s communications director, said in a statement according to Fox News.

The Florida Republican came under heavy fire this week after comments directed at President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, on the eve of his testimony before Congress.

“Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…” Gaetz wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

He defended his remarks to reporters on Wednesday, saying, “we’re witness testing, not witness tampering.”

And while House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said he did not think Gaetz was actually threatening Cohen, according to Fox News, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged members to be “mindful” about social media comments, prompting an apology from Gaetz and clarification that ” it was NOT my intent to threaten.”

He also tweeted that he had apologized to Cohen personally.

Rep. Kathleen Rice called for the House Ethics Committee to investigate Gaetz’s tweet, according to Fox News.

“As a former District Attorney and federal prosecutor, I believe this statement is in violation of 18 U.S. Code 1512, which clearly defines witness tampering and intimidation,” the New Jersey Democrat wrote. “According to the Department of Justice … this statute applies to proceedings before Congress.”

Stacey Plaskett, a nonvoting delegate for the Virgin Islands in the House of Representatives, addressed the tweet and directly named Gaetz during Cohen’s public testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

“I want to apologize for the inappropriate comments and tweets that have been made by other members of this body, and as a former prosecutor, and as a former counsel on House ethics, I think at the very least there should be referral to the Ethics Committee of witness intimidation or tampering under U.S.C. 15.12 of my colleague Matt Gaetz, and it may be possible of him being referred for criminal prosecution,” Plaskett said.

The Florida Bar opens an investigation “any time the words or actions of a Florida lawyer result in complaints,” Walker noted in the statement from the state Bar.

“If rules have been violated, The Florida Bar will vigorously pursue appropriate discipline by the Florida Supreme Court,” Walker said. “The Florida Bar takes its responsibility of regulating lawyer conduct very seriously,” adding that it pursues discipline against lawyers “whose professional conduct is not in keeping with the rules.”

Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs slammed the attempt to “intimidate a U.S. Congressman who is exercising his right to speech.”

Twitter users weighed in on the implication of an investigations over tweets and the hypocrisy of Democrats.

 

Frieda Powers

Comments

Latest Articles