WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Embattled U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said Monday that he is "not a monk" but "certainly not a criminal."
Gaetz wrote in a Washington Examiner op-ed that news outlets "are just repeating false allegations about a congressman who loathes the swamp and fights both sides of it on a daily basis."
"Since I'm taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly," Gaetz wrote. "First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old."
Gaetz's comments came on the same day that one of his former staff members said the allegations against the congressman are "baseless."
Nathan Nelson, the former director of military affairs for Gaetz, said during a news conference in Santa Rosa Beach that the FBI came to his home last week to question him about recent allegations that Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Nelson told reporters that his departure from the congressman's office was not related to the Department of Justice investigation and said he had no knowledge of the allegations, as first reported by the New York Times.
"I'm saying the allegations that named me were baseless, and likewise that kind of reflects on the allegations against Congressman Gaetz," Nelson said.
Gaetz refuted the allegations last week, writing on Twitter that he and his family have been victims of a former Department of Justice official "seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name."
"We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI's discretion to catch these criminals," Gaetz wrote in a series of tweets. "The planted leak to the FBI 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."
Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 30, 2021
We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter...
...and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals. The planted leak to the FBI tonight was intended to thwart that investigation.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 30, 2021
No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets...
...of the ongoing extortion investigation.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 30, 2021
I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.
Gaetz, whose congressional district covers the westernmost portion of Florida's panhandle, went on to write in his op-ed that he is "absolutely not resigning."
"As for me? I'm going to fight like hell for my constituents and the country I deeply love," Gaetz wrote. "You deserve no less, especially right now."