Arresto Cadmentum? This allegation from the New York Post and Business Insider is sooooo outlandish that it might actually be, er … true. According to both, Matt Gaetz and his pals in the Florida legislature used to play a Harry Potter-themed sex context, in which they compared notes for points on their conquests. The more unlikely the target, the more points one scored, according to their sources.
Man, I clearly missed some subtext in the novels. But like those stories, this one isn’t exactly new by now either:
Rep. Matt Gaetz and fellow Florida lawmakers played a creepy, competitive, “sex challenge” game while working at the statehouse ten years ago — in which participants won varying points depending on who they slept with, according to a new report.
Competitors could earn extra points for bedding a married legislator or spending the night at a college sorority house, a female GOP insider told Business Insider in the report, published Friday.
And anyone who slept with one particular conservative female politician “won the whole game regardless of points,” said the source, who spoke to Business Insider on condition of anonymity.
That woman was known as the game’s “snitch,” after the coveted flying golden ball in Quidditch, a magical sport played by young wizards in the Harry Potter book series, the source said.
That certainly puts an entirely different spin on the sports stories in the novels by JK Rowling. According to the details, points got awarded in escalating order starting with interns (!), ascending through staffers to female legislators, with bonuses for bedding married women, right up to the vaunted “snitch.” Part of the game, obviously, was not just bedding the women but then freely talking about it behind their backs, which is about as caddish as it gets. It’s tough to believe that this behavior still exists in high schools, let alone state legislatures.
In fact, it’s so tough to believe this that it raises the question of how seriously we should take this allegation. No one’s saying who the game’s “snitch” was, and neither paper mentions the snitch who sourced the story, either. Such a single-sourced story should be taken with a great deal of skepticism, especially in the middle of a media feeding frenzy involving a public figure. The example of Brett Kavanaugh comes to mind, who got relentlessly smeared with unsupported and unsupportable allegations of sexual abuse after Senate Democrats leaked the one ambiguous and unsupported allegation against him. Plus, while this story paints Gaetz and his pals as cads if true, consensual non-commercial sexual relations between adults isn’t a crime, although sex with interns or staffers might be an ethics violation. (Remember Katie Hill?)
Except … this isn’t an entirely new story. In fact, it’s been floating around for years, both in print and on social media. A year ago, another legislator went on the record and on social media on this story, although not as a witness to the events themselves, the NY Post points out. It started out with a tiff between Gaetz and a fellow Republican over … Al Sharpton?
— Chris Latvala (@ChrisLatvala) January 13, 2020
Sharpton has called
Greeks “homos” and
Jews “diamond merchants”
So that is pretty disgusting. https://t.co/SODj3YPBke
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 14, 2020
And you created a game where members of the FL House got "points" for sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators. Hope DC is treating you well, Comgressman. https://t.co/PGFuQHJbEJ
— Chris Latvala (@ChrisLatvala) January 14, 2020
That wasn’t personal testimony, but a reference to a 2013 story from then-Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo:
In a text message, Latvala cited a 2013 tweet by Politico’s Marc Caputo, who was then at the Miami Herald, that explained the alleged game: legislators got one point for sleeping with a lobbyist; two points for sleeping with Legislative staff; three for another legislator; six for a married legislator.
Caputo tweeted about it at the time:
Hey ladies! Source: young male FL Reps have point-system contest for having sex: 1=lobbyist 2=staff 3=other legislator 6=married legislator
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) May 2, 2013
That was almost eight years ago. Putting on our skeptical hats again, one has to ask: why is this coming up again now? Did Gaetz make so many enemies in Florida and elsewhere that they’re coming out of the woodwork to take skeletons out of long-closed closets, or perhaps even making up some stories to chum the waters? Did Business Insider talk to the same one source Caputo had in 2013, or is this someone new corroborating it?
The Sorting Hat might have some difficulty with this case. The obvious comparison at the moment is to Andrew Cuomo’s alleged sexual predation in the governor’s office. However, in that case the women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of specific acts, which were allegedly non-consensual in nature. In this story, we have eight years without any such first-person or on-the-record allegations against Gaetz from the women involved. It might end up only being one source with an axe to grind against Gaetz; there is no way of knowing at the moment. The Sorting Hat says … remain in the House of Skepticdor until the snitch(es) go on the record.