In the week since news broke that the Justice Department is investigating claims that Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., paid for sex with multiple women, including a 17-year-old girl, the Trump ally has largely stayed out of the public eye save for an interview on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to deny the allegations.
Now, Gaetz is planning to take center stage later this week as a keynote speaker at a conservative women’s group’s conference at former president Donald Trump’s Miami golf course.
Women for America First, a nonprofit organization of Trump loyalists, orchestrated and publicized a rally on Jan. 6 before the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and also led bus tours nationwide spreading unfounded claims of election fraud.
“We know firsthand what it is like to be treated unfairly by the main stream media,” Amy Kremer, the group’s chairperson, said in a statement to The Washington Post that defended Gaetz as “innocent until proven guilty.”
The event, called the “Save America Summit,” begins Thursday at Trump’s Doral golf resort and also includes appearances from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.
Gaetz’s appearance comes as he faces an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into accusations of sexual relationships with underage women in violation of sex trafficking laws. The probe began after Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector now charged with stalking and sex trafficking of a minor, told investigators that Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her travel with him.
On Friday, The Washington Post reported that Gaetz repeatedly bragged to several Florida politicians about meeting women through Greenberg. The Post also reported that on multiple occasions Gaetz showed colleagues images of naked women.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that his family is being extorted. The FBI is separately looking into those allegations.
Women for America First called Gaetz a “fearless leader in DC” in a tweet Tuesday announcing his appearance at the conference. Kremer suggested that the allegations against Gaetz were a partisan plot.
“We know that partisan political witch hunts are standard operating procedure for many in the media,” she said in a statement to The Post.
Kremer’s group organized a”Stop the Steal” rally in the Washington in November that drew thousands. In December, it planned a “March for Trump” in D.C., that devolved into violence as extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, brawled with anti-Trump protesters. By the end of the night, there were four stabbings and nearly three dozen arrests.
In the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, Women for America First held a cross-country bus tour. During the stops in 20 cities, the group held rallies where speakers repeated Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation.
On Jan. 5, the group received a permit for a rally the following day on The Ellipse, just outside the White House, and for an another “March for Trump.” Speaking to a crowd the morning of Jan. 6, Kremer repeated Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, saying, “You guys, we cannot back down.”
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The Washington Post’s Reis Thebault contributed to this report.