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Is Matt Gaetz outing anti-gay Republican hypocrites? Bring it on!
The GOP civil war is apparently now cleaning out closets
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Last night, Tim Miller, the gay Bulwark writer who was communications director for Jeb Bush’s campaign in 2016 but left the GOP, tweeted out that Matt Gaetz appeared to be “outing” the GOP Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Missouri Congressman Jason Smith.
You can watch the clip from Gaetz’s podcast here. Gaetz is extremely peeved that Smith attacked him for triggering the removal of Kevin McCarthy as House speaker. Gaetz played a clip of Smith saying, “Let me just tell you, if Matt Gaetz’s lips are moving, it’s only lies that’s coming out of it,” and calling Gaetz a “foolish liar.”
The vengeful Gaetz responded by saying Smith is the one who is “living a lie” and that every Republican in Congress knows about it:
Jason Smith says if my lips are moving, I’m lying. Well, you know what? If Jason Smith is breathing, he is living a lie. There might not be another member of Congress who lives a lie every day more than Jason Smith. And Jason Smith knows exactly what I’m talking about. And by the way, so does almost every member of the House Republican caucus.
So, there’s a good deal of projection in Jason Smith calling me a liar when it’s Jason Smith who literally has to live a lie. And I honestly pity him for that because you know, it wouldn’t be something that– I wouldn’t live that way. I’ll just put it that way. So, Jason, I would check yourself before you come at me with any accusations of being dishonest about what I say, when you’re dishonest about how you live and what you do.
So what do we know about Smith?
He has voted anti-LGBTQ for years—in office since 2013—with a score of zero from the Human Rights Campaign. He condemned the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision in 2015, saying he has “never wavered in my commitment to the biblical definition of marriage.”
Like most Republicans in the House, Smith voted against the Respect for Marriage last year, which protects same-sex marriage, and voted for the spending bills this year that added dozens of anti-LGBTQ provisions.
But unlike most Republicans in the House, Smith is 43 and unmarried. And one of his closest friends in Congress for years—someone he traveled with on lavish trips—was none other than Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock, the closeted gay House member who resigned in 2015 amid a scandal that focused on his outrageous misuse of government funds, and who eventually was indicted in 2016 for fraud and theft of government funds, among other charges.
Schock finally came out of the closet, announcing, “I am gay” in 2020.
Schock voted anti-gay throughout his time as a member of Congress—including against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell"—even as rumors swirled about his sexual orientation. In earlier years, before becoming a House member, he flat-out denied he was gay, but during his time in Congress, he did everything to deflect from directly answering the question when asked.
When I approached him at the Republican National Convention in 2012 and asked if the rumors were true, he expressed outrage that I could even ask the question—but didn’t outright say no.
Asked on the floor of the RNC…to respond to those who’ve believed that Schock is gay and also view his vote against “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal as a vote against members of his own group, Schock responded, “Those questions are completely ridiculous and inappropriate.” He added, when asked if he is confirming that he is not gay, “I’ve said that before and I don’t think it’s worthy of further response. I think you can look it up.” Schock then walked off, abruptly ending the interview.
Of course, Schock was totally gay, as he would later confirm—and voting against LGBTQ people. And during that time, one of his closest friends in Congress was Jason Smith.
Attention was brought to their relationship when the spotlight focused on the luxurious trips Schock was taking, often spending taxpayer dollars. As reported by The Hill in 2015:
Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) joined his close friend Aaron Schock on campaign and government trips and exotic vacations in 2014 that are being scrutinized by federal investigators looking into alleged spending abuses by the former congressman, who resigned in March.
Revelations that Smith, 35, accompanied Schock on the campaign trip come the same week The Hill reported that Smith has hired Schock’s former chief of staff, Mark Roman, who managed the congressman’s office at the time of his spending scandal.
There’s no indication that federal prosecutors have questioned or sought records from Smith, but his participation on trips now under criminal investigation could drag one of Schock’s closest friends in Congress into his legal mess and undermine Smith’s political image as a humble, salt-of-the-earth fiscal conservative. The news has also led to chatter on Capitol Hill, where Roman’s hiring by Smith surprised many.
That story also reported on a trip that Smith took with Schock to Brazil along with two other House members, most of which was paid for by the Brazilian government.
But after the official business, the Hill reports, Schock, Smith, and several of their male aides headed to the Brazilian beach town of Canoa Quebrada, a gay-friendly resort spot.
Smith and Schock also went to Argentina with their aides, and the Hill reported on how unusual it was for members to take their aides on lavish vacations:
Later that December, Schock posted Instagram photos of himself, Smith, Roman, and Schock’s photographer, Jonathon Link, hanging out at a vineyard in the famed Mendoza wine region of Argentina and whitewater rafting the Andes rivers of Potrerillos. Schock paid Link thousands of dollars in taxpayer and campaign money to snap dramatic photos of him around the country and around the world.
Many of those photos ended up on Schock’s Instagram account. Some GOP aides said it was odd for lawmakers to be taking their staffers on exotic vacations.
As noted, one of the aides on both the Brazil trip and the Argentina trip was Mark Roman, who, as the Hill reports, many were surprised Smith hired as his chief of staff, since he was managing Schock’s office during the time of the spending scandal. Roman has now moved up from being Smith’s chief of staff to being staff director of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which Smith chairs.
All of this makes Gaetz’s podcast that much more interesting. Yes, the hypocrisy is astounding considering all that Gaetz allegedly has in his past. But this is the GOP tearing itself apart, so let them have at it. Gaetz has been a MAGA supervillain doing what he can to take down not only Democrats; he’s laser-focused right now on taking down the GOP establishment, causing complete chaos. And information is power, especially if it’s being used as a weapon.
I have no problem with the truth being reported about a public figure’s sexual orientation when it’s relevant—such as if that person is voting anti-LGBTQ but is actually gay. And Gaetz is actually outing the entire GOP here, noting that every Republican knows about Smith’s alleged closet—while most of them rail against LGBTQ people. I’d just rather see solid facts rather than innuendo used as a threat.
So please, Matt Gaetz, flesh out all the details, and let’s hear everything about all the other GOP hypocrites. We’re all here for it.