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Rep. Matt Gaetz

Photo by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A Pensacola law firm has fired back at Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-FL) claims accusing one of its attorneys of extortion.

According to MyNBC15, Beggs & Lane Attorneys and Counselors at Law released a statement in defense of its partner David L. McGee, also a former prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Florida, whom the controversial lawmaker has accused of extorting his family for millions of dollars.

As reports of sex trafficking allegations involving Gaetz were made public on Tuesday, he appeared on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight where he claimed McGee "attempted to extort $25 million from Gaetz and his family in exchange for McGee making the investigation 'go away.'"

The following day the law firm released a statement in response to Gaetz's claims.

"During his tenure with the Department of Justice, [McGee's] reputation for integrity and ethical conduct was impeccable," the statement read. "It has remained impeccable throughout his 25-year tenure with our firm. While he was with the DOJ he would never have entertained a scheme such as what Congressman Gaetz suggests nor would he today. Unsubstantiated allegations do not change that fact."

In a statement released on Tuesday, Gaetz detailed a meeting between his father and the FBI as he insisted that the goal was to catch McGee for the alleged actions. The statement reads, "The planted leak to the New York Times tonight was intended to thwart that investigation. No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation."

During the Fox News interview, Gaetz also claimed McGee was supposed to reach out to his family to receive a sizable portion of the extortion money — a $4.5 million down payment. When asked how Gaetz's decision to speak publicly could impact the investigation, attorney Eric Stevenson weighed in with his perspective.

"In our system, a criminal defendant or a suspect or a subject doesn't ever have to give a statement to law enforcement," he said. "But any statement they make can be used in court, even if they didn't make it to law enforcement. So it's quite possible that someone who gets charged with a crime and makes a statement in the news, that -- even if they don't take the stand -- what they said on the news gets played in court in front of a jury. So that's the real fear that I have for clients with them talking."

As of April 1, Gaetz hae not been charged in connection with the allegations but the investigation is reportedly ongoing.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Doug Mastriano

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Doug Mastriano is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and January 6 insurrectionist who this week won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor. Mastriano is also anti-Muslim: He previously shared an image with the words, “Stop Islam” and a post claiming that “the American People have a right to be fearful of the prospect of a large number of muslims being elected to congress, specifically if they practice Sharia law.”

In addition to running for governor, Mastriano is a Pennsylvania state senator, a right-wing commentator, and a frequent guest in right-wing media. He regularly pushes lies about the 2020 election being stolen from former President Donald Trump.

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