Bar Complaint Filed Against Rep. Matt Gaetz By Miami-Dade Democratic Party

I recently disagreed with North Carolina Law Professor and CNN Legal Analyst Michael Gerhardt, who declared that the entire Trump defense team would face bar charges for their defense of the President. No such bar charges have been filed but the Miami-Dade Democratic Party has filed a frivolous bar complaint against Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) for his role in the storming a secure congressional facility during the closed-door hearings held in the impeachment inquiry. The complaint in my view is utterly without merit and would create a dangerous precedent for bar associations to use their authority to regulate or punish the actions of lawyers in the capacity as members of Congress.

In October, roughly two dozen House GOP members stormed into the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) interrupting the deposition of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper. The scheme was chaotic as Gaetz and the others were told to leave since they are not members of the Committee.

There are ample reasons to object to the conduct, including the potential for undermining the integrity of a SCIF which handles classified material. However, according to the Miami New Times, the complaint alleges that Gaetz’s conduct as a member of Congress should result in his discipline as a lawyer because “Gaetz is not a member of any of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, or Oversight Committees, and he knew or should have known that he was not permitted to attend any of the closed-door depositions being held by these committees.” Since the proceedings were meant to gather testimony, the Democratic party alleges that it was akin to stopping a deposition as an attorney: “[t]hese instances were in direct violation of the operative rules contained in the 116th Congress Regulations for Use of Deposition authority.”

The premise is inherently flawed. Gaetz, rightly or wrongly, was acting as a political representative against what he viewed as an improper shielding of witnesses and evidence by the majority. A myriad of actions could be converted into bar complaints under this loose suggested standard. For example, Chairman Adam Schiff, who is also a lawyer, was accused of misrepresenting facts and preventing full examination of witnesses. To allow such conversion of political issues would be to invite a slippery slope of politically motivated charges before bar committees.

The Democratic Party seemed to go out of its way to telegraph that this is a raw political exercise. It declared “[b]oth intrusions are improper, unethical, and were meant only to feed Gaetz’s unjustifiably large ego and penchant for grandstanding.” To further high-light the use of the bar system for political purposes, Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair Steve Simeonidis also took a shot at Attorney General Bill Barr in declaring Republican Attorney General Bill Barr isn’t going to hold a member of his own party responsible. So we must appeal to our state’s institutions to restrain this rogue lawyer.” It is an internally conflicted argument. They accuse Gaetz of misusing the congressional process of political purposes by misusing the bar process for political purposes.

The real question is not whether this is a legitimate ethical charge but whether the bar will make any effort to deter future such filings by taking counsel for the Democratic Party to task for the filing. Various ethics opinions warn that threatening or declaring bar violations can be unethical, particularly when (if true) you are under an obligation to actually report such conduct. If there is a lack of a good faith basis or support, it can violate professional standards.

Gaetz has admitted to improper conduct in connection to congressional proceedings. An ethics complaint was filed against Gaetz for his highly improper tweet the night before tampering with then-witness  Michael Cohen testified in February 2019.

The bar correctly found no violation but Gaetz ultimately apologized for the appalling tweet.

State bars should not be used for political demonstrations or retaliations. The Democratic Party undermines not just this important process but its own credibility in the filing of such frivolous complaints.

61 thoughts on “Bar Complaint Filed Against Rep. Matt Gaetz By Miami-Dade Democratic Party”

  1. The Democrats are desperate all they want to do is to make headlines for CNN,MSNBC ABC,CBS, NBC and the other Democrat networks
    WHY ARE SMART PEOPLE STILL IN THE DEMOCRATS PARTY?

  2. Filing False claims should bring Penalty 10 X that of the supposed offense for accusers.Maybe they would start speaking the truth instead of spreading LIES for their own personal gains.

  3. I think you geniuses forget that there is an authority higher than the Constitution, and that authority is under no obligation to sit back and watch this clown show, letting you geniuses just do whatever you want and calling it Politics.

    And even you should check yourself, because as they say, papa goes too when the wagon comes, and if you are there, even as a casual observer, you too will be swept up when that Authority exercises their authority in the most ostentatious display of power when they set things straight.

    The government is in chaos and you geniuses just keep playing like it’s a school yard game. We are in a Constitutional crisis, an Article 1 Constitutional Crisis, meaning we can’t legislate anything, and we don’t even know what that means, our Government is totally corrupt, quid pro quo is the normal, and we have so many conflicts of interest that we couldn’t police our government even if we wanted to. We have criminals leading our government who would be in jail, as many of their associates are already, if they weren’t in public service where they have given themselves immunity by calling it Politics.

    This crap doesn’t make sense period, much less to a reasonable people. But just sit there having fun playing your game, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when that authority you’ve forgotten about comes through and cleans their House. We may not remove all your heads like the People did in France, but I’m sure they can come up with an equally appropriate penalty!

    1. “I think you geniuses forget that…”

      For this I come to a blog? to be insulted by an angry old man who is in desperate need of psych meds?

      Maybe you should run for Congress. You and Pelosi can rip whatever papers you fancy

  4. Republicans must fight back. File suits against all the quacks with law degrees who illegally impeached the president with no real evidence. Go after them…Two can play this game.

    1. The Left is becoming infamous for an intolerance of opposing ideas, and using violence to try to terrorize the opposition.

      The next time someone is assaulted for Trump clothing or campaign materials, or an invited conservative speaker is threatened on campus, they authorities need to treat this like what it is, domestic terrorism. In typical bully behavior, they never seem to target the 200 lb alpha male in the MAGA hat.

  5. I have to respctfully disagree. As a lawyer the rep from Florida is held to a higher standard of ethical conduct than his non lawyer house colleagues. He has an obligation not to do anything prejudicial to the administration of justice or that would impugn the legal profession. His first amendment rights and position as an elected official don’t negate that. He can lose his license for behavior totally unrelated to his practicing law – driving drunk, grand theft auto and any number of other bad acts, including his attempt to interfere with a House investigation. Bill Clinton didn’t get a pass (recall that he was disbarred) and neither should this guy. His conduct may not have risen to the level of Clinton’s (lying to a grand jury) but it was not beyond reproach and, in my view, merits some type of public censure.

    If our elected politician lawyers knew they can be taken to task for ethically improper behavior maybe they’ll think twice before doing something stupid like this. A bar license is a valuable resource and should be treated as such by the person holding it. I know I do mine.

    1. Bill Clinton lost his license for felony perjury. The other examples you gave were also felonies.

      What similar felony has Mr Gaetz committed that would call for him to lose his license to practice law?

      Do you really want to politically weaponize the state bar? That would be anathema to justice.

      1. ::claps for Karen::

        I thought the same thing, Karen. Just another person who wants to nail others to the wall, for some unknown, unexplained reason.

        1. Tangentially, I recently saw Pres LeBlanc talking to an undergraduate student on the DC streets in and around GW university. I thought, “Wow, what a nice guy to stop and give a student the time of day, and a full blown explanation of the university’s investment thought process.” If I was the President of GW, I would most certainly NOT give an undergraduate student that time of day and that level of energy and attention.

          And my reasoning for NOT giving the student that, would be NOT bc I didn’t like the students (in fact, I would like the students), but bc I would have to assume it was a set-up and I was being recorded without my knowledge or my consent.

          WHICH, btw, is exactly what happened in this instance. Like wow, someone needs to politely tell “her” that her behavior is rude and inappropriate. I know she is young, so learning curve, but you don’t pull the “gotcha” with the recording.

          You are seeing this happen all the time now at all levels of society. I guess we all do need to censor what we say before you have a pseudo-police, aka others in and around you, but you in that position.

          1. I would like to add, some would say LeBlanc’s comment in the video was, not the “wisest” choice of words, and I would agree with that statement….

            …..I certainly would not have used that as my first come-to-mind/come-to-thought analogy…..I think there are other analogies to get your point across, without offending others….

            HOWEVER, I would also follow that up with LeBlanc was being hyperbolic and outrageous in word choice for the sole intention of getting his point across, to the point where even the most plum dumb person would understand what he is getting at….

            ….BUT of course, everyone has to be up in arms in the PC community…..he apologized, everyone should move on, no one should be fired….

            I would have also requested the students name, email, and phone number, and giving her my office line….and told her if she wants to have a genuine conversation about GW investments, to make a 30 min appt with my assistant, and bring your friends/other students…..

            And then when they arrived, I would have brought out the box, the cell phone box, so all the students could leave their phones in the box outside…..not b/c I actually thought I would say something offensive, or faux pas, but just as a precaution, b/c no one should be recording anyone else without their consent or permission or knowledge.

      2. I never suggested that the rep from Florida should be disbarred, only that he ought to think about his ethical obligations as a lawyer before shooting off his mouth and saying or doing something stupid. The Model Rules of Ethics governing lawyers don’t allow them to check their ethical obligations at the door when they take the oath of office – that goes for lawyers of all political stripes.

    2. Since you claim to be an attorney, you need to watch your own law license, because you may very well be sailing in unethical behavior waters.

      There. See how easy it can be to threaten your livelihood?

    3. If Rep. Matt Gaetz decided to go “Ghost Ride the Whip,” I might turn my head sideways; however, I would still pay money to see such an act.

      Lawyers ghost riding the whip, would be a true comedic classic, breaking so many traffic laws….

      But barging into a room, Meh…..

      Equally so, if Gaetz decided to go steal a car, license revoke, as well as many other issues he would have from that incident.

      But then, drunk driving (1x), Meh…put him on probation and into the addiction rehab program….

      However, drunk driving (2—-3-4x), now we are looking at a reoccurring addiction, that could lead to issues for clients, as well as addiction leading to a malpractice, and now disbarment might me in the line of sight.

        1. I guess a lot of Criminal and Tort law came out of this act/action. It’s always funny, until someone gets hurts, as they say…

          And the same would go for a (1x) DUI where the person kills another person, then again, I think that lawyer would have bigger problems than their Bar license, and its an obvious, they won’t be practicing anymore, ever again.

          I do think their is a program for 1 time offenders who were lucky and did not hurt anyone, albeit probation.

            1. Most states have intervention programs for lawyers that get into trouble. Some, like my state, send lawyers to ethics school for a couple of days as an intervention tool when lawyers stub their ethics toes and the behavior isn’t egregious or accompanied by aggravating circumstance. I know a lawyer that got disbarred several years back after driving away from from a serious hit and run with a cyclist with his young children in the car. The supreme court disbarred him in short order, which seems appropriate given the seriousness of the misconduct.

              I’m not advocating that the rep from Florida should be disbarred, only that he should think twice before he opens his mouth or does something dumb, and if the state bar believes his conduct was ethically improper appropriate discipline meted out. Otherwise, lawyer politicians will end up being held to a lower standard of ethical conduct. The last time I checked, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct didn’t create two sets of ethical standards – one for lawyer politicians and another for the rest of us.

              If lawyers end up being less effective politicians for not being able to lie, cheat and steal (and I say that for lawyers on both side of the political isle) then our profession is doing its job of policing its own.

  6. How does this conversation apply to all the Reps in the House who are not lawyers? This conversation implies all Representatives are lawyers. Not so. They are Representatives of all the people living in their districts period. And we have a right to know. Schiff’s secretive basement “investigation” was a sham from the get go.

        1. So in other words, the fact that a DA happens to be on “our payroll” entitles us to know what’s going on behind closed doors in a grand jury investigation? It doesn’t work that way. The defendant only gets to know what cards the DA is holding if, and when,the DA decides to file charges, not beforehand.

          Think about it – if a suspect had a right to know what the prosecution was holding, including the right to contact witnesses, before an investigation was completed and charges filed, how could the DA ever make a case?

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