New reports have revealed that the ouster of Kevin McCarthy from Speaker of the House had less to do with policy disagreements and more to do with covering up an ethics probe.
The Daily Beast reports, “Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has been adamant that his move to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was rooted in policy disagreements and wasn’t a personal vendetta related to the congressional ethics investigation against him.
In private, he told a different story.
“According to private correspondence reviewed by The Daily Beast, Gaetz indicated to a friend that his effort to undercut, isolate, and ultimately remove McCarthy was, indeed, payback for the ethics probe….Suffice to say, however, it’s clear from the communications that Gaetz’s targeting of McCarthy wasn’t borne out of his concern for reckless Washington spending.
In the communications, Gaetz singled out McCarthy individually for reviving an Ethics Committee probe against him, and he indicated that his animus toward McCarthy was over that investigation.
The beleaguered Florida congressman’s anger over the revived probe was so strong that he rode his resentment all the way to a history-making vote to remove McCarthy, steamrolling the majority of his GOP colleagues concerned that his vanity project would cause serious, long-term damage—and he did so with his signature Gaetz grin.”
Other Republicans also offered details to the outlet that revealed Gaetz sought revenge against McCarthy, but that doesn’t mean that the former Speaker intends to take the attack lying down. Instead, he’s planning a “revenge tour.”
The McCarthy revenge campaign is ready to marshal the former speaker’s considerable donor network on behalf of Republican primary candidates who are deemed strong enough to pose a credible threat to one of the eight, according to Politico.
“These traitors chose to side with Nancy Pelosi, AOC and over 200 Democrats to undermine the institution, their fellow Republicans and a duly elected Speaker,” Walsh said in a statement. “There must be consequences for that decision.”
Behind the scenes, McCarthy allies have identified three of the Gaetz Eight as the most vulnerable in primaries and thus, the ripest targets: Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Bob Good (R-Va.) and Eli Crane (R-Ariz.). Mace and Good already have strong challengers, but Crane still lacks a compelling prospective candidate to take him on.
That quiet work shows McCarthy’s appetite for payback remains intense, even months after his October ouster as speaker and December departure from Congress. It also illustrates that even out of office, the former speaker and his supporters can make life miserable for his detractors — a further sign that the House GOP power struggle between burn-it-down hardliners and more establishment conservatives is alive and well.
Anonymous sources told the outlet that McCarthy is in full support of Walsh. Although the former speaker is not directly involved in the project’s operations, he is kept up to date on its advancements along with key donors.
Mace is particularly facing a tough challenger from her own chief of staff, Dan Hanlon. The former DC staffer received a major push to run after speaking to McCarthy who allegedly encouraged Hanlon to run against Mace in the aftermath of her vote to oust him from the speakership.
“Hanlon has been pleased with how well the idea has been received and how many people are looking for a Mace alternative, both money people in D.C. and movers and shakers in S.C.,” a Republican familiar with Hanlon’s decision-making process told Politico, who first reported the news.
“Among the negative reports about Mace’s conduct was an examination of a 98-page handbook authored by Mace that included guidance to staff that she only be served room temperature water and that she be pulled from constituent meetings that lasted longer than 3 minutes, along with booking quotas for appearances on cable news outlets. Her colleagues have privately called her a narcissist, complained about the repeated discrepancies between her public statements and private reversals, and critiqued her for a perceived lack of a moral compass.
A trail of disillusioned ex-Mace staffers has informally lined up behind Hanlon, and Mace has struggled to fill out her shrinking office, according to people familiar with her new hires.
Hanlon, who has worked in Republican politics and for South Carolinian members for over a decade, ‘doesn’t seek the spotlight, unlike Mace who uses crass comments about her sex life to get in the news cycle,’ said another former Mace staffer, a reference to Mace’s comment at a prayer breakfast about turning down her then-fiancé’s advances ahead of the event,” according to The Washington Post.
Despite his best efforts, the ethics probe into Gaetz has not subsided. CNN noted last week that “the House Ethics Committee investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz has reached out to the woman whom the congressman allegedly had sexual relations with when she was a 17-year-old minor, according to a source familiar with the committee’s work.
The outreach, which has not previously been reported, is a sign that the GOP-led committee’s investigation into the Florida Republican has recently expanded to include questioning around allegations of sex crimes.
Sources said the committee also has reached out to the Justice Department requesting materials from its investigation into Gaetz, which included allegations of lobbying violations, sex-trafficking and possible obstruction of justice. The federal probe, which also included allegations he had sex with a minor, concluded in 2023 with no charges brought against the congressman.”
Gaetz has denied the charges. However, even as McCarthy sits in California licking his wounds, he may want to keep a pair of eyes in the back of his head.