Gov. Phil Murphy wants Rep. Matt Gaetz in the state even less than he did after the Florida Republican appeared maskless at a New York Young Republicans fundraiser where compliance with COVID-19 mitigation strategies was in short supply.
“He’s less welcome than he was before, and he wasn’t welcome to begin with,” Murphy said Wednesday.
The Department of Justice is investigating Gaetz, a three-term congressman who emerged as one of President Donald Trump’s top allies in Congress, over allegations of a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Federal authorities are also probing whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws by paying for the minor’s travel across state lines. The New York Times first reported the investigation into Gaetz, following it with a report that said Gaetz sought a blanket pardon from Trump for himself and other congressional Republicans.
Murphy in December excoriated the congressman after he and the New York Young Republican Club crossed the Hudson to hold an event in Jersey City that flouted state guidelines on masks and social distancing.
“That guy in the middle, the tall, handsome fellow in the grey suit, that is Rep. Matt Putz — sorry Matt Gaetz,” Murphy said at the time, referencing a photo of the fundraiser. “Based on his past performances, it is obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him. He was actually Sarah Palin’s backup act for this event.”