Tensions flared between Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker from California, and Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida during a private discussion on Thursday. Gaetz has alleged McCarthy’s involvement in an online campaign attempting to tarnish his reputation, an accusation McCarthy has vehemently denied.
The heated conversation occurred during a House GOP meeting, where Gaetz was openly challenging McCarthy’s leadership. Gaetz queried McCarthy about alleged financial contributions aimed at spreading negative sentiments about him on the internet. In response, McCarthy mentioned his donations to fellow Republicans, bringing up a particular contribution possibly linked to FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried.
Contrary to Gaetz’s claims, McCarthy has stated that he has no association with any negative campaigns against the Florida representative. This statement was further supported by a cease-and-desist letter sent by McCarthy’s legal team earlier in the week, targeting the individual behind such solicitations. McCarthy emphasized his focus on his duties and managing the conference, subtly dismissing Gaetz’s concerns.
In recent times, messages on social media platforms have showcased offers for paid advocacy campaigns opposing both Gaetz and the possibility of a government shutdown. These messages were highlighted by conservative commentator Rogan O’Handley, insinuating a connection to McCarthy. Gaetz, not missing a beat, echoed this sentiment online.
In response, Elliot S. Berke, representing McCarthy legally, addressed the individual supposedly behind these solicitations with a warning of legal repercussions if the false claims associating McCarthy continued.
This disagreement adds fuel to the already strained relationship between the two politicians, which was evident during the Speaker’s election in January. With the impending government shutdown deadline of Sept. 30, the situation is only growing more intense. While McCarthy is advocating for a Republican-driven interim bill to sustain governmental operations, a few staunch conservatives, including Gaetz, have expressed their unwillingness to back a continuation bill.
With a bipartisan interim bill in the Senate set to fund the government until mid-November and allocate funds for Ukraine and disaster aid, Gaetz has cautioned McCarthy about supporting such legislation. He threatened a potential vote against his leadership if the bill sees the light of day. Meanwhile, McCarthy has informed his caucus that he won’t be bringing this legislation for a vote, emphasizing his position in the ongoing feud.