(Luis Cornelio, Headline USA) House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., reportedly exchanged heated words, with Gaetz leveling accusations of a McCarthy-led smear campaign against him.
The altercation occurred during a House GOP conference on Thursday and eventually devolved into a profanity-laden exchange between firebrand lawmakers.
According to reports, Gaetz accused McCarthy of orchestrating a campaign involving “MAGA influencers paid to attack Matt.” In response, McCarthy dismissed the allegations, alleging he “wouldn’t waste his time on Gaetz like that.”
Tensions flared, igniting one lawmaker to tell the other to “F— off,” as another labeled his counterpart a “scumbag,” according to Fox News.
The alleged argument also shifted toward fundraising efforts, with a defiant McCarthy challenging Gaetz, saying, “Tomorrow I’m spending my time giving $5 million [to GOP candidates and members] to expand our majority. What are you doing to help our majority?”
Gaetz confirmed the altercation to Fox, expressing he initially believed McCarthy was the mastermind behind the campaign. “I asked him whether or not he was paying those influencers to post negative things about me online,” Gaetz stated.
When asked if the confrontation had made him angry, Gaetz quipped, “My blood pressure is like 120 over 80. So I’m feeling great.”
However, McCarthy’s office denied having any involvement in the politically negative posts against Gaetz but blamed a Democratic Party-aligned group.
An attorney for McCarthy reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to the individuals he believed were behind the anti-Gaetz campaign.
“I am outside counsel to Speaker Kevin McCarthy. I understand based on multiple reporter inquiries that reference your name that you are reaching out to social media influencers about a ‘Against Gaetz and government shutdown’ and claiming it is on behalf of Speaker McCarthy and/or entities purportedly affiliated with the Speaker. That is false and in violation of the law,” the letter read.
“This email puts you on notice that you must immediately cease and desist or we will move forward with all remedies under the law including the pursuit of damages where warranted.”
This public feud follows Gaetz’s recent opposition to a defense spending bill, in which he cited McCarthy’s promise to pass legislation issue by issue. In addition, Gaetz had pledged to lead efforts to oust McCarthy from the speakership if he continues to violate his promises to staunch conservatives in the House.