Rep. Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) (Photo: Gage Skidmore)​

Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, facing an FBI investigation into whether he sex-trafficked a minor, allegedly violated ethics rules by failing to disclose royalties from his book released last year, "Firebrand."

Gaetz eventually filed an amendment disclosing $25,000 in royalties from the book, which indicates meager sales of between 2,200 and 6,000 copies, according to the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger.

Sollenberger goes on to note that the book — published prior to the FBI probe — includes passages alluding to Gaetz's "sexual encounters" in Washington, D.C.

Gaetz filed the amendment to his financial disclosure a few days after the Daily Beast inquired about why the book royalties weren't included in his initial report. Experts say that by leaving out the royalties, Gaetz appears to have violated ethics rules but is unlikely to face penalties since he filed the amendment.

Kedric Payne, general counsel and senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, told the Daily Beast: "The law is clear that book royalty income must be disclosed. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a recent example when a lawmaker did not disclose such income," adding that "more facts" are needed.

Brett Kappel, an attorney who specializes in government compliance at Harmon Curran, added: "Filing an incomplete financial disclosure report is a violation of both the Ethics in Government Act and the House rules."

Gaetz's amendment shows the book "didn't exactly burn up the charts," according to Sollenberger, even though he got help promoting "Firebrand" from former president Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

"In the book, structured as a series of insider 'dispatches' from the MAGAverse, Gaetz goes into detail about his 'active social life,' including sexual encounters as a 'fun-loving politician' in Trump's Washington," Sollenberger reports.

"It's risky to date in a town where there's potentially a thin line between love and blackmail, or at least love and bad PR," Gaetz wrote. "I knew going in how many people had been brought down by sexual missteps in this town, so I set some rules to help me err on the safe(r) side."

"In Washington, safe sex means in part: no dating lobbyists, no dating your staff members, and I should have added no dating reporters, but I didn't at first," he wrote. "I'm a representative, not a monk."

According to Sollenberger, Gaetz also wrote about a 2019 New Year's Eve trip to Key West with two "best friends" who have been questioned as part of the FBI's investigation.

"The passage includes a meditation on a condom wrapper with a picture of a bee on it, captioned 'cover your stinger,' which Gaetz claimed to have obtained from the Key West airport and serves as an extended metaphor for romantic despair," Sollenberger reports.

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