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Matt Gaetz, Under Investigation for Potentially Sex Trafficking a Minor, Is Now Hosting Events for High School Students

Matt Gaetz runs his hand through his hair and gives a sleazy smile sitting in front of a giant American flag

Despite the fact that he is still under investigation for, among other things, allegedly having sexual relations with and trafficking an underage girl, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz thought it would be a good idea to host an event with a bunch of high school students.

This week, Gaetz’s office hosted its annual “Academy Night,” where high school students can learn about the process of applying to military academies. It seems ill-advised for Gaetz to be attending, let alone hosting, any event geared toward teens while his federal investigation is ongoing, but this one is especially objectionable due to the extreme imbalance of power inherent in this particular event.

One of the requirements for students to gain acceptance to these military academies is that they need a letter of recommendation from Gaetz. (A rec from their Congressional rep, their Senator, or the Vice President is required, although it’s also reportedly very unusual for the elected official to do these face-to-face meetings themselves rather than go through their staff.) As one commenter on the event’s Facebook page wrote, “It is absolutely vile that the school system would invite someone currently under investigation for rape and sex-trafficking into the school to speak to 17 year old girls and put them in a position where they have to ask him for a favor.”

In addition to the investigation, Gaetz has made numerous gross, offensive comments about women and girls. He called abortion rights protesters “over-educated, under-loved millennials.” On another occasion, he gave what seemed to be an extended attempt at stand up comedy, asking a crowd, “Why is it is that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?” He even recently aimed his body-shaming at a teen girl, who managed to turn the tables on him and used his bullying to raise more than $2 million for abortion access.

A group called Women Against Matt Gaetz formed in recent weeks, largely in response to those gross, misogynistic comments. The group already has more than 10,000 members, about 80% of whom live in Gaetz’s congressional district, according to Florida Democratic State Committeewoman and the group’s founder Samantha Herring, speaking to NWF Daily News.

“There’s a very bipartisan dislike of the man,” Herring told the outlet. “And I’m not surprised to see the support for us here in the district. The district has had enough.”

The group has been showing up to events attended by Gaetz, and they’ve also launched some attention-grabbing protests:

Gaetz has responded with derogatory mockery:

He is the absolute worst. He shouldn’t be allowed around any humans, let alone teenagers.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.