Matt Gaetz again subject of planned Florida Bar complaint
TALLAHASSEE — A Florida attorney who ran unsuccessfully in November as a Democrat for a South Florida seat in Congress is filing a complaint with the Florida Bar against Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Republican congressman who represents Northwest Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pam Keith contends that Gaetz's conduct in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election, in which Democrat Joe Biden defeated incumbent Republican Donald Trump, constitutes "an act of sedition, and an illegal and immoral effort to disenfranchise millions of American voters."
Keith further contends that, based on her complaint and previous Bar complaints filed against Gaetz, he should be disbarred.
The quoted language appears on petitions.net, a website devoted to seeking signatures on submitted petitions.
Specifically, Keith's petition notes that Gaetz's name appears on a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in connection with a Texas case seeking to invalidate election results in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin based on alleged voting irregularities. The Supreme Court subsequently rejected the lawsuit.
Keith contends that Gaetz's action "materially harmed the citizens of the state of Florida inasmuch as they were likely to draw retaliatory enmity from the voters of the Defendant States, and most importantly, served to dissolve the Constitution of the United States of America."
Keith also alleges that Gaetz "acted in furtherance of sedition designed to tear apart the fabric of federalism that allows this nation to function and thrive."
In a Dec. 17 post on Twitter, Keith indicated that she would file her complaint with the Florida Bar on the following evening. However, as of Thursday morning, the complaint hadn't been received, according to Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker.
Keith, who lost the November congressional contest against incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Mast, claiming 41.5% of the ballots cast, asks the Florida Bar to "fully investigate Mr. Gaetz’s actions ...," contending that "no lawyer should act in furtherance of sedition or destruction of the Constitution of the United States."
Gaetz's actions "brought shame and disrepute on the legal profession and on the state of Florida, and (he) is no longer worthy of the privilege of being called an 'officer of the court'," Keith further contends in her petition.
In responding to a Daily News request for comment on Keith's petition, Gaetz did not address the substance of her concerns, instead pointing to a 2017 post she made on Twitter regarding the white suspect in the deaths of six people at a Canadian mosque.
In the post, Keith suggests that a "Ban of white Christians (should be) contemplated."
"Pam Keith thinks it should be 'banned' to be white and Christian," Gaetz wrote in a text message to a Daily News reporter. "I don't read any of her desperate attempts to be relevant. Her latest missive (the petition seeking support for her Bar complaint against him) is no exception. I spend my time debating those who actually win congressional elections."
Keith's complaint will not be the first time that Gaetz has been a subject of a Florida Bar complaint. In February, a complaint was filed in connection with Gaetz's decision to lead other members of Congress in rushing into a secure hearing room where depositions were being taken in the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The Bar ultimately decided that it could not find any probable cause to take action and dismissed the complaint.
Last year, however, a Florida Bar Grievance Committee issued a "letter of advice" to Gaetz regarding a post on Twitter regarding Michael Cohen, then President Trump's personal attorney.
The Bar opened an investigation after Gaetz tweeted that Cohen, then Trump's so-called "fixer," was having extramarital affairs, and further suggested those affairs would be revealed to his family. The tweet came on the eve of Cohen's testimony to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, in which Cohen accused Trump of criminal conduct in connection with a hush-money scheme involving a pornographic movie star.
The tweet, for which Gaetz later apologized, "was not consistent with the high standards of our profession," the Bar noted in its letter of advice, adding that Gaetz's actions did "not reflect favorably on you as a member of The Florida Bar."
The letter of advice came from a 10-member committee in the state's First Judicial Circuit. The committee, however, found "no probable cause" that Gaetz violated professional standards, and went on to note the letter "does not constitute a disciplinary record against you ... ."