The fact that this guy is a sitting member of Congress shows just how low we set the bar for our (male) politicians Matt Gaetz: a man who has spent his career reveling in scandal rather than actually doing his job. Photograph: Michael Brochstein/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock A guide to navigating ‘Gaetzgate’ The Matt Gaetz story increasingly reads like a script written by a pervert high on a cocktail of ADHD meds and MDMA. Even if you’ve been following the scandal-prone Republican congressman’s latest controversy closely it’s hard to keep track of what on earth is happening. So here’s a guide to navigating the saga far. First and foremost, it has been established that Gaetz is under federal investigation for sexual misconduct. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the justice department (DoJ) is investigating whether Gaetz, 38, “had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him”. If these allegations are accurate, then Gaetz could have violated federal sex trafficking laws. According to the Times, the allegations are part of a broader investigation into a political ally of Gaetz’s named Joel Greenberg, a Florida tax collector who was indicted last year on charges including the sex trafficking of a child. Greenberg also reportedly misused public funds to buy servers for a cryptocurrency company as well as weapons, ammunition and a drone. As you do. After the Times broke the story, Gaetz confirmed to Axios that he was under federal investigation for sexual misconduct and is worried about being criminally charged. Rather predictably, however, he insists that he’s actually the victim in all of this and has said “no part of the allegations” against him are true. Gaetz, who is currently engaged to a woman 12 years younger than him, claimed that he used to be a “generous” partner in his single days and paid for flights and hotel rooms. “I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not,” he said. Why would someone want to do that? Well, in a statement released on Tuesday Gaetz said he and his family have “been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DoJ official seeking $25m while threatening to smear my name”. He claims the investigation is a cover for extortion and suggested that it was linked to the “Biden White House”. Which is a weird claim considering the New York Times reports that the investigation into Gaetz, a Donald Trump loyalist, was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under then attorney general William Barr. Here’s where things get really weird. According to the Washington Post, a couple of grifters who learned of the investigation against Gaetz decided to use the opportunity to extort the congressman’s father. They reportedly wrote to Don Gaetz and said that there were pictures of his son with “child prostitutes”; they would help Gaetz, however, if he gave them a large sum of money. The idea, dubbed “Project Homecoming”, was that they’d use that money to locate and rescue Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who was kidnapped in Iran back in 2007. Levinson, who is presumed dead, would be heroically rescued by Gaetz; Joe Biden would be so thrilled with the rescue that he’d pardon Gaetz. The bottom line? It seems plausible that Gaetz really is caught up in a bizarre extortion plot. However, there are two possible scenarios here. Scenario one: Gaetz did nothing wrong and is telling the truth about being the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy orchestrated by his political rivals that kicked off when Gaetz’s buddy Trump was in power. Scenario two: there is no big conspiracy against the congressman; a couple of opportunists simply pounced on the investigation against him as a way to make money. I don’t know about you but the second scenario seems rather more plausible to me. Ultimately, it’s important not to let all the drama distract from the real issue here, which is that a sitting congressman seems to be under investigation for sex trafficking and has links to a guy who has already been indicted for sex trafficking. It doesn’t really look good for Gaetz. It looks so bad, in fact, that Gaetz’s communications officer abruptly left his job on Friday. While the allegations against Gaetz are still being investigated, it’s worth noting that Gaetz has faced accusations of disturbing sexual conduct before. In January 2020 Chris Latvala, a Republican congressman, tweeted that Gaetz “created a game where members of the FL House got ‘points’ for sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators”. Gaetz also reportedly bragged of his sexual exploits and showed other lawmakers nude photos of women he’d slept with. According to CNN, he showed his colleagues these photos while he was at work. Gaetz, by the way, was also the only lawmaker to vote against a bipartisan anti human-trafficking bill. A number of his colleagues have also spoken out about “love of alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as his proclivity for younger women”. I don’t know exactly what Gaetz has or hasn’t done, but I do know he’s spent his career reveling in scandal rather than actually doing his job. He even joked with Elon Musk last week about how a scandal involving him would be called GaetzGate. The fact that this guy is a sitting member of Congress boggles the mind. It shows just how low we set the bar for our (male) politicians. Boy, do I ever regret giving Gaetz the benefit of the doubt I should state for the record that I wrote an article last year saying I thought it was unfair that people were insinuating Gaetz had an inappropriate relationship with his “son”, Nestor. And there is no evidence, to be clear, that the relationship is inappropriate. However I have certainly learned my lesson: never ever even vaguely defend Matt Gaetz. The rise of granfluencers Two octogenarians went viral after modelling their grandson’s gender-neutral fashion line at Paris fashion week. They’re part of a growing trend of “granfluencers”. Ivanka’s women’s empowerment scheme not very empowering after all The Government Accountability Office has issued a very unflattering report about Ivanka Trump’s women’s empowerment initiative. I am sure you are just as shocked about this as I am. How Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s bold experiment led to smallpox vaccine Edward Jennner gets the credit for inventing the smallpox vaccine in 1796. Turns out he was building on a woman’s work: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had successfully inoculated her three-year-old daughter several decades before Jenner’s experiments. Of course, she got zero credit for her ideas at the time and was denounced as an “ignorant woman”. Andrew Cuomo is fighting to erect a skyscraper called Penn15 in Manhattan I wish this were a joke but it’s not. The New York governor is facing a number of scandals but refuses to resign and is reportedly obsessed with this real estate project. Perhaps because the people behind it have given a lot of money to his campaigns. The week in pawtriarchy The only person who might be worse at their job than Cuomo is the genius who reportedly tried to pass off a golden retriever as a lion at a Chinese zoo. The zookeeper may have been inspired by an incident a few weeks earlier at another zoo in China where a supposed wolf’s cage housed a rottweiler. Which might be funny were it not for the fact that many Chinese zoos are notoriously cruel.