U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz says FL Bar cleared him in ethics complaint

Gaetz on Fox News
Republican U.S Rep. Matt Gaetz on Fox News show

Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz won’t face any repercussions from The Florida Bar after a February tweet that seemed to threaten Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen who was about to testify before Congress.

“The Florida Bar has informed me that the Grievance Committee found ‘no probable cause’ that I violated the rules of my profession,” Gaetz said in a tweet Wednesday. “They are taking no disciplinary action against me & are sending a letter of advice. I thank the Bar committee members for their sound judgment.”

Gaetz, an outspoken Trump supporter who represents a conservative congressional district in the Florida Panhandle, drew a formal complaint after he issued an antagonizing tweet last spring aimed at Cohen, the president’s former lawyer who is now serving a prison term.

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – 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 tweeted.

The tweet drew charges of witness tampering and Gaetz issued an apology, while deleting the tweet. The Florida Bar, which oversees the legal profession in the state, initiated an investigation after an anonymous complaint was filed against Gaetz. The complaint questioned whether he violated the professional conduct code for lawyers.

In a Florida Politics report, Florida Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker confirmed the Grievance Committee’s decision but said a formal letter will not be released until later this week when it is sent to Gaetz.

In an interview with the Florida Phoenix in February, Gaetz said the original tweet was never intended as a threat against Cohen.

“Cohen is the one who threatens people. I was just asking questions and testing the character and veracity of someone who intends to come and lie before the Congress again,” Gaetz said.

Cohen is serving a three-year term in a federal prison for financial crimes related to “hush money” payments to women who said they had affairs with Trump, who has denied the relationships.

Lloyd Dunkelberger
Lloyd Dunkelberger has been covering Florida government for over three decades. He’s reported and edited in Tallahassee for the New York Times Regional Newspapers group, Florida Politics, and the News Service of Florida. He grew up in Jacksonville and Palm Beach County and got his journalism degree at the University of Florida.

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