Miami-Dade Dems File Bar Complaint Against Matt Gaetz for Obstructing Impeachment

Rep. Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz Florida House of Representatives
The Miami-Dade Democratic Party this afternoon filed a formal bar complaint against Panhandle congressman and TV-news clown Matt Gaetz in a longshot attempt to rein in Gaetz's never-ending series of buffoonish antics committed in support of President Donald Trump. The complaint probably won't yield results, but the Miami-Dade Democrats said today the Florida Bar should sanction Gaetz, a licensed attorney in the Sunshine State, for improperly barging into multiple closed-door impeachment inquiry hearings on Capitol Hill last October.

"Impeachment proceedings are a legal process leading to a trial, and therefore covered by the Florida Bar's rules of conduct," Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair Steve Simeonidis said in a media release this afternoon. "But Republican Attorney General Bill Barr isn't going to hold a member of his own party responsible. So we must appeal to our state's institutions to restrain this rogue lawyer who obstructed the impeachment process twice and generally treats the powers of his elected office like a personal plaything."

Yesterday the Senate acquitted Trump of obstructing justice and abusing his power in a party-line vote, with the exception of Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Throughout the months-long process, Gaetz acted like a child — for example, he made fun of Hunter Biden for getting a DUI despite the fact Gaetz himself infamously has a DUI on his record. At one point, Gaetz actually screamed, "You don't get to interrupt me!" at Stanford Law School professor and Ukraine-case attorney Pamela Karlan. His antics have done little but endear him to Trump's fans and Fox News viewers.

But some of Gaetz's stunts might have been serious legal violations, according to the Miami-Dade Democrats. In October, he twice barged into impeachment inquiry hearings. October 14, he claimed his position on the House Judiciary Committee gave him the right to enter a closed-door hearing involving former presidential adviser Fiona Hill. Gaetz, of course, had no business being there and was kicked out.

Then, October 23, he led fellow members of the House Freedom Caucus — a collection of mostly white men who, generally speaking, are some of the farthest-right members of the House — into yet another, closed Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) room to interrupt Rep. Adam Schiff and demand an end to the impeachment inquiry. After the second instance, numerous legal experts said Gaetz's actions constituted grave violations of national security protocol and would likely lead to ethics complaints.

One of those complaints arrived today.

"Both intrusions are improper, unethical, and were meant only to feed Gaetz's unjustifiably large ego and penchant for grandstanding," the complaint reads. "These instances were in direct violation of the operative rules contained in the 116th Congress Regulations for Use of Deposition authority."

The Miami-Dade Democrats allege Gaetz's actions also broke Florida Bar rules because lawyers in the state are not allowed to willfully obstruct the evidence-gathering process and cannot intentionally obstruct the "rules of a tribunal." Because the impeachment process is technically a legal trial, the Miami-Dade Democrats say Gaetz broke legal rules and ought to be sanctioned.

"Gaetz is not a member of any of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, or Oversight Committees, and he knew or should have known that he was not permitted to attend any of the closed-door depositions being held by these committees," the complaint states.

This is Gaetz's second bar complaint in the past year. In 2019, Gaetz threatened former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen just before Cohen was set to testify on Capitol Hill during the Russia inquiry. Gaetz was hit with a bar complaint, but that case was ultimately dismissed.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.