Twitter jab quickly escalates into ugly battle between two Florida Republicans

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Screengrab YouTube: Chris Latvala (L), Matt Gaetz

Two prominent Florida Republicans got into a Twitter spat Monday night that took a turn for the worse when allegations about sexual misconduct were leveled.

Interesting, the allegations came from state Rep. Chris Latvala, a squishy Republican state lawmaker whose father, former state Sen. Jack Latvala, was forced to resign after six women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment — the GOP-controlled state Senate paid a $900,000 settlement to a high-ranking legislative aide who lodged a complaint.

(The elder Latvala was cleared of criminal charges by a state prosecutor.)

The target of the younger Latvala’s ire, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who was asked about the allegations made against him on Fox Business Network and stated adamantly he has not engaged in any “improper conduct.”

A pro-Trump Republican, Gaetz said all the focus on the story “is one of the new ways the media tries to discredit the president’s strongest supporters.”

As for the allegation by Latvala, that Gaetz created a “game” that involved a scoring system for sexual conquests as a state representative, the congressman denied it.

“I have not engaged in any of the improper conduct that was alleged against me,” he told host Lou Dobbs. “As a matter of fact, the Tampa Bay Times that alleged this cited a Politico story from 2013. The very reporter who wrote that story tweeted that I was never accused of any improper conduct and when he in fact was researching and looking into this saw no improper allegations about me.”

 

Again, Gaetz put it back on the media for over-hyping the story because he’s a staunch Trump supporter.

“Again the national media is trying to spread lies about me I think because we’re rolling right into this impeachment trial and folks know I will be on the airwaves doing everything I can to defend our transformational president,” he said.

Gaetz also spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about the brouhaha.

“I know Jack Latvala had to resign in disgrace over demanding sexual favors from lobbyists in exchange for appropriations, so it was likely Chris projecting,” he said. “I don’t start conversations with people on Twitter about their sex lives. Especially Latvalas.”

The dust began when Gaetz responded to a picture Latvala tweeted sitting with race hustler Al Sharpton.

“It was an honor to meet @TheRevAl today,” Latvala commented.

Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with Gaetz, who was only too happy to point out a few of Sharpton’s transgressions over the years. This prompted Latvala to come back with the sexual misconduct allegation.

As for the alleged scoring system, legislators reportedly got one point for sleeping with a lobbyist; two points for sleeping with legislative staff; three for another legislator; six for a married legislator.

While both Republicans have plenty of arrows in their quivers, the tweet proved to be just the opening salvo.

Gaetz replied to the tweet from the state lawmaker to remind him of his “daddy,” who was once a powerful lawmaker seen by many as a bully.

For the record, Gaetz’ father, Don Gaetz, served in the state Senate and was Senate president from 2012 to 2014.

With Gaetz having been arrested in 2008 for driving under the influence, this proved to be fodder to a Latvala counter-punch.

They had one more exchange before common sense prevailed… or an adult intervened and took their phones away from them.

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Tom Tillison

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