Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has been caught in an apparent clear violation of a federal ethics law covering the financial disclosures filed by members of Congress. In a financial disclosure form that appears to cover at least part of last year, Gaetz originally failed to include information about how much money that he made from a book that he wrote, which was published in September 2020. Disclosing such information is a straightforward requirement under federal law for members of Congress. As attorney Brett Kappel put it to The Daily Beast, “Filing an incomplete financial disclosure report is a violation of both the Ethics in Government Act and the House rules.”
NEW: Beleaguered Matt Gaetz failed to disclose profits from his book last year, which violates House ethics rules. He fixed that after we inquired about it, though. Turns out they’re terrible. Me @thedailybeast https://t.co/fPtpCMUrrs
— Roger Sollenberger found true love, suckers (@SollenbergerRC) August 25, 2021
Soon after The Daily Beast asked Gaetz’s team about the missing book income details, the Congressman filed an update to his financial disclosure form that included the information. Originally, a Gaetz spokesperson claimed to The Daily Beast that the Congressman’s office was waiting on “additional documentation” from the book’s publisher regarding profits, and the spokesperson added that the Congressman’s team was “in the process of receiving that information and amending the Congressman’s financial disclosure.” The update, though, was filed just three days after The Daily Beast asked about the missing information, which seems suspiciously quick.
Notably, the update to Gaetz’s financial disclosure form reveals that his book didn’t do particularly great in its first months available. The filing indicates that Gaetz “earned exactly $25,000 from book sales last year, after giving 30 percent of his personal profits to his agent, Sergio Gor,” as The Daily Beast explains, and pairing this information with the 60 percent royalties that Gaetz claims to be under contract to receive for the book works out to a startlingly low overall sales level. Between August (when pre-orders became available) and December of last year, Gaetz’s book appears to have brought in about $59,500 overall — and that’s it.
At the book’s original price for its hardcover edition of $27 apiece, that works out to about 2,200 individual copies sold (although an eBook is available for $14.99). The book’s hardcover edition is now available for under $10, but even that lower price doesn’t lead to promising sales numbers. Assuming, for the sake of the calculation, that his book sales across late last year were all at $10 apiece for the hardcover edition, that’s still less than 6,000 copies sold. Experts on the matter suggested to The Daily Beast that Gaetz’s swift fixing of his financial disclosure would shield him from serious repercussions over this issue.
Meanwhile, Gaetz continues to face a separate federal criminal investigation into whether he was involved in child sex trafficking. Joel Greenberg, an ally of Gaetz in Central Florida, has already pleaded guilty to that exact crime and has been providing information to investigators as part of his plea agreement.