Matt Gaetz's campaign paid $25K to a Manhattan criminal defense lawyer who represented Jeffrey Epstein, new records show

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz's campaign paid a criminal defense attorney in June for "legal consulting."
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

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  • Rep. Matt Gaetz paid a criminal defense attorney $25K as he faced a sex trafficking investigation.
  • The attorney has represented Jeffrey Epstein and alleged crime bosses.
  • Gaetz also paid a campaign consulting firm $825,000 as he faced a barrage of press scrutiny.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz's congressional campaign paid $25,000 in June for "legal consulting" fees to a Manhattan criminal defense attorney, new campaign finance records show. 

Gaetz's latest filing shows that he paid the sum to attorney Marc Fernich, who lists among his "notable clients" the accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, and convicted crime family boss John "Junior" Gotti. 

Screenshot of payment from Matt Gaetz campaign to Marc Fernich.
Screenshot from Rep. Matt Gaetz's campaign finance report.
Federal Election Commission

The legal payments from Gaetz's campaign came after reports surfaced in late March that the third-term congressman was under investigation for sex trafficking. The New York Times reported that the Justice Department was investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing. 

Fernich's practice, according to his website, "centers on criminal defense, mainly sophisticated appeals and legal motions that can toss charges at the trial level or pave the way for future appeals."

The Florida congressman's campaign also spent $25,000 for "legal consulting" from the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, the filings show. 

And Gaetz's campaign paid a whopping $825,000 to the Logan Circle Group for advertising and "strategic campaign consulting" between April 8 and May 14, the records show. Harlan Hill, the president of the DC-based Logan Circle Group and an ally of former President Donald Trump, has been responding to reporters' inquiries about Gaetz since the scandal broke in the spring. 

Screenshot of Matt Gaetz's campaign spending.
Screenshot of Rep. Matt Gaetz's campaign finance report.
Federal Election Commission

One of Hill's colleagues at the firm threatened at least two reporters with lawsuits over their coverage of Gaetz, Politico reported in April. 

Gaetz's office, Hill, and Fernich's office did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment about his campaign spending, which was made public Thursday in a filing to the Federal Election Commission. Members of Congress are required under federal law to report their campaign expenditures. 

The congressman's campaign also reported paying $800 in meal and parking expenses at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, in May. 

Gaetz's latest financial spending report covers the time period between April 1 and June 30.

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