They say when you find yourself at the bottom of a ditch, stop digging. But apparently Matt Gaetz didn’t get that memo because he’s halfway to China right now.
In case you haven’t heard, the 38-year-old frat boy/Florida lawmaker is currently under investigation for allegedly paying women, as well as a 17-year-old girl, for sex on CashApp and Apple Pay. He, of course, denies this, but The New York Times has text messages and online receipts that seem to corroborate the allegations.
Now, rather than do what anyone being federally investigated for underage sex crimes would probably do and, say, hire a lawyer, followed by maybe a publicist, Gaetz has decided to write a scathing op-ed in the Washington Examiner affirming his innocence.
Related: A brief, probably incomplete history of Matt Gaetz’s sex scandals and creepiest moments (so far)
In an article dramatically titled The swamp is out to drown me with false charges, but I’m not giving up, Gaetz reminds everyone, “I am a representative in Congress, not a monk.”
Of course, nobody expects him to be a monk. Only monks are expected to be monks. They do, however, expect him not to pay underage girls for sex. But we digress.
“I want to be clear about something as we process the leaks and lies from the past week,” he continues. “To this point, there are exactly zero credible (or even non-credible) accusers willing to come forward by name and state on the public record that I behaved improperly toward them.”
This, of course, isn’t true.
Multiple media outlets have reported that an 18-year-old testified before a grand jury in Florida last week saying she had sex with Gaetz when she was still a minor. And while he may not think she’s credible, the Department of Justice believes she’s credible enough to have launched an investigation into the matter.
Gaetz goes on to say that he believes this is all part of an elaborate smear campaign against him, motivated by his criticisms of the Biden administration, or maybe because of his beef with Liz Cheney.
This is a vastly different explanation than he gave just last week, when he told Tucker Carlson he was the victim of a $25 million extortion plot. Or something.
“Since I’m taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly,” Gaetz continues. “First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old.”
He then goes on to say he is “enjoying my current embrace of monogamy” with his fiancée Ginger Luckey, who hasn’t issued any comment since the story broke last week.
Related: Matt Gaetz’s fiancée urged to “Run girl!” after sharing photo of his bare legs amid teen sex scandal
“I’m a better man today than I was years ago,” he writes. “Heck, I hope to be a better man than I was yesterday, every day of my life. My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal.”
Except for that time he got arrested for drunk driving, of course. And all of those speeding tickets. But maybe that stuff doesn’t count?
This is #MattGaetz‘s 2008 Drunk Driving #Mugshot. Besides Gaetz getting the charges dropped after he “refused” a breathalyzer test, he also had 16 speeding tickets from 1999-2014. This guy should be allowed to sweep the floors of congress let alone represent #FLORIDA pic.twitter.com/7wylKKlf6h
— StageWrangler🇺🇸 (@calicolocali) February 7, 2019
“My political opponents want to sensationalize and criminalize my prior sex life just as I am getting engaged to the best person I’ve ever known,” Gaetz claims.
Then, without the slightest hint of irony, he adds, “It is regrettable that the battle of ideas should thus become so personal. But then again, when your ideas suck, you need to stoop this low.”
He concludes by accusing the Justice Department of trying to “pervert the truth” and says he will “not be intimidated or extorted” before comparing himself to a gladiator.
“The battle for America’s future demands gladiators,” he write, “and I am going to keep getting back up and fighting, every single day.”
Graham Gremore is the Features Editor and a Staff Writer at Queerty. Follow him on Twitter @grahamgremore.