POLITICO Tries to Smear America First Congressman Matt Gaetz
Politico ran cover for North Carolina Senator Richard Burr in their POLITICO Playbook newsletter by attacking Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz.
In the newsletter it claimed that “Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz has spent nearly $200,000 in taxpayer funds renting an office from a longtime friend, adviser, campaign donor and legal client.”
The newsletter added:
Both men said in separate interviews Gaetz paid below market rent for the space — although Gaetz later shifted, saying the rent was ‘at or below market rate.’ House rules explicitly state such arrangements are not allowed. … On top of being [Collier] Merrill’s tenant, Gaetz attended fundraisers at Merrill’s restaurants, sought his counsel on policy matters and tapped him as a validator for his work in Washington.
Gaetz allegedly paid more than $184,00 to Collier Merill’ Empire Partners LLC to rent the entire sixth-floor in the Seville Tower. According to the House’s spending records, Gaetz rented from Merill since he arrived in Congress in 2016.
Politico noted this:
Gaetz … has paid more than $184,000 to Merrill’s Empire Partners LLC to rent the entire sixth-floor in the Seville Tower, a historic building in downtown Pensacola, according to House disbursement records. Gaetz has rented from Merrill since he got to Congress in 2017.
According to House rules, leases for district offices have to be at fair market value.
House rules state that all leases for district offices must be ‘at fair market value as the result of a bona fide, arms-length, marketplace transaction. The Lessor and Lessee certify that the parties are not relatives nor have had, or continue to have, a professional or legal relationship (except as a landlord and tenant).
Gaetz allegedly approached Merrill about renting space from his building.
Merrill said in an interview that Gaetz approached him saying he wanted to rent space in his building. Merrill then dispatched his leasing director to give Gaetz’s staff a ‘range to see what they can get’ and the private negotiation yielded a price in the middle. … ‘I love the idea of … having a state rep, having a congressman — we’re right across from the courthouse,’ Merrill said.
On xxx, 2020, Gaetz took to Twitter to defend himself from Politico’s hit piece.
“Politico shills for Burr.Busts me: (1) having a friend (2) maybe getting a bargain 4 taxpayers (3) allowing donations of gift certificates to art students and (4) introducing legislation to help every restaurant in my district, equally.Over $500k returned to taxpayers! https://twitter.com/politico/status/1251129550249099265.”
Politico shills for Burr.
Busts me: (1) having a friend (2) maybe getting a bargain 4 taxpayers (3) allowing donations of gift certificates to art students and (4) introducing legislation to help every restaurant in my district, equally.
Over $500k returned to taxpayers! https://t.co/cUDyQnCNkx
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) April 17, 2020
This is another case of tepid journalists taking a “penny wise, pound foolish” approach in their coverage of political stories.
When establishment politicians are committing acts of political graft on a much higher scale, the 4th Estate would rather focus on small cases where the entire facts aren’t clear. Senators like Richard Burr have tremendous privilege, unlike most Americans, in having insider information when it comes to selling stocks and raking in big cash. Sadly, only few voices like Tucker Carlson are covering such incidents.
Gaetz should get a chance to defend himself in a just manner without having to be smeared by an increasingly activist media.