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Florida Democratic Attorney Submits Petition to Disbar Matt Gaetz

A former Democratic congressional candidate in Florida has submitted a petition with the Florida State Bar requesting that Republican Representative Matt Gaetz be stripped of his license to practice law.

Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Pamela Keith, an attorney who in November lost her race to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Mast, tweeted on Tuesday morning:

This petition to disbar Matt Gaetz has been filed. But you can still sign. I will update the Bar w/additional signatures after the holidays. Whether or not they choose to discipline him (they have censured him in the past), the record of his tenure will have this stain forever.

Keith first introduced her petition to have Gaetz disbarred in a tweet late last week.

“Tomorrow evening, I will file the disbarment complaint against Matt Gaetz. It’ll be his third major ethics transgression & fourth time embarrassing the FL Bar,” wrote Keith. “You can show support by signing the petition below. You can sign from anywhere in the U.S.”

As of today, the petition has garnered more than 3,800 signatures, and that number is still growing.

It alleges, in part, that Gaetz, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, has committed sedition against the United States for, along with 126 House Republicans, signing an amicus brief asking the United States Supreme Court to nullify the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which President-Elect Joe Biden won by significant margins:

This is Mr. Gaetz’s third serious infraction within the last four years.  Mr. Gaetz engaged in willful and sanctionable witness intimidation in conjunction with Congressional investigations into misconduct of the President, for which a Bar Complaint was filed.  On a second occasion, Mr. Gaetz compromised security of classified proceedings in Congress by engaging in a publicity stunt and using an unsecured mobile phone in a location in which such was prohibited.  Although he was not sanctioned for it, Mr. Gaetz embarrassed and brought shame upon the Bar of the State of Florida when he wore a gas mask on the floor of the United States House of Representatives to mock and make light of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died and suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gaetz, the petition states, must face consequences for his actions:

But Mr. Gaetz’s latest transgression is one that truly warrants loss of the right to practice law in the State of Florida. In this latest episode, Mr. Gaetz willingly participated in an act of sedition, and an illegal and immoral effort to disenfranchise millions of American voters. I ask that the Bar fully investigate Mr. Gaetz’s actions, whether or not they believe themselves to have authority to discipline him at this time, and that the Bar publish its findings with respect to Mr. Gaetz’s actions and choices.  I maintain that no lawyer should act in furtherance of sedition or destruction of the Constitution of the United States.

Although the High Court unanimously rejected the case, Keith accuses Gaetz of engaging in a trifecta of “egregious betrayal and attacks on the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Violating his oath of office:

On or about December 10, 2020, Mr. Gaetz affixed his name to a brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of a Motion for Leave to File a Complaint propounded by the Attorney General of Texas, asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the certified election results of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia (hereinafter “the Defendant States”). The gravamen of the petitioner’s request for leave to file a complaint was that the election procedures of the Defendant States were somehow deficient. The filing made no claim of large-scale voter fraud, nor did it take issue with the election results for any other races on the ballots of the states at issue. Importantly, the remedy sought in the Motion was the wholesale disenfranchisement of millions of voters who engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever, in order to overturn the outcome of an election and install Donald Trump as president over the objection of the majority of both the electorate and the Electoral College.  

Mr. Gaetz joined with one hundred twenty-five (125) other Republican members of the House of Representatives in a Friend of the Court (hereinafter amicus) brief in support of the Motion filed by the State of Texas. In doing so, Mr. Gaetz materially harmed the citizens of the state of Florida inasmuch as they were likely to draw retaliatory enmity from the voters of the Defendant States, and most importantly, served to dissolve the Constitution of the United States of America. He acted in furtherance of sedition designed to tear apart the fabric of federalism that allows this nation to function and thrive. 

Participating in Trump’s dubious challenges to the 2020 election: 

The Trump campaign filed no less than fifty (50) legal challenges across the country to undermine the election results.  It filed cases in state and federal courts, both at the trial and appellate level.  It succeeded in only one case of minimal import, and was summarily dismissed for want of presenting a scintilla of admissible evidence in dozens of courts. It produced no evidence of wide-scale election fraud and has become a national joke of jurisprudence, repeatedly filing court papers of dubious merit, rife with lies, baseless speculations, inaccuracies, and obvious technical mistakes.  It has been given every reasonable opportunity to make its case and has simply not be able to do so in any court.  Its filing at the Supreme Court was an abuse of process, and a total waste of valuable taxpayer resources.   

Mr. Gaetz’s participation in the Supreme Court proceedings was wasteful and an abuse of legal proceedings.  It was an outrageous betrayal of Floridians and an attack on the unwitting voters of the Defendant States, who did nothing to deserve an attack from Florida other than choosing Joe Biden over Donald Trump for the presidency. The Trump Campaign’s Motion was frivolous and without any basis in law, and Mr. Gaetz’s participation in such an abuse of process is worthy of sanction, up to and including disbarment.   

Acting in bad faith:

Rule 4-3.3 prohibits a lawyer from presenting misleading legal argument, or argument based on knowingly false representations of law. Furthermore, a lawyer has a duty to disclose directly adverse authority in the controlling jurisdiction. The amicus brief signed by Mr. Gaetz falls woefully short of this requirement.  To be fair, there is little precedent for the notion of one state disenfranchising the voters of another state, but at a minimum, his filing should have pointed out that the outcome of the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution prohibit the relief sought by petitioner. 

Furthermore, the amicus brief conveniently fails to address the fact the Motion takes no issue with the election results in the Senatorial, Congressional and down ballot races of the Defendant States, which is internally inconsistent and illogical.  If, as the Motion intimates, there were substantial irregularities in the conduct of the election, surely the down-ballot races were equally corrupted.  And yet, the filings make no suggestion that the Republican members of Congress from the Defendant States were not properly elected and should not be seated in Congress.

The idiocy of this glaring problem is proof of the inexcusable bad faith on the part of Texas, and advanced by Mr. Gaetz in his support of the Trump Team effort. Mr. Gaetz was well aware that the internal theory of the argument in the Motion made no sense.  He was also aware that the Texas Motion was rife with lies, misstatements of facts, wild unproven accusations, speculation and vague untenable legal theories.  Mr. Gaetz saw fit to join this pathetic example of legal argument in order to create doubt about the legitimacy of the election result in the court of public opinion, and place pressure on the Supreme Court to hear the case, regardless of the damage that such would do the American people.

Mr. Gaetz’s bottomless bad faith is further evidenced by the fact that he supports a claim that the use of Vote By Mail by the Defendant States was somehow unconstitutional. It should not be lost on the reader that Vote by Mail has been used in Florida for years. Mr. Gaetz was well aware of that fact.  So how, exactly, could he support an assertion that Vote by Mail is unconstitutional when it is the very procedure by which he himself was elected.  It bears repeating that none of the partisan GOP litigants had issue with Vote by Mail with regards to the election of Senators or members of Congress. 

The absurd Texas maneuver, and the whipping up of Republican support for it was partisan political theatre, designed to undermine faith in the election result and sow division and dissent in the greater populace. The entire effort was committed in bad faith and in advancement of the dissolution of the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Gaetz’s choices were yet another serious and profound violation of the standard to which Florida lawyers are held, and are worthy of censure and sanction, up to and including permanent disbarment.

Keith has also called for the resignation of Florida’s Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody.

“FL AG Ashley Moody asked the SCOTUS to throw out the presidential votes (but not the down-ballot votes) of the citizens of 4 states because vote by mail is ‘unconstitutional,'” Keith tweeted on December 12. “She serves a state that has used VBM for YEARS! Her bad faith is inexcusable. She needs to step down.”

An hour later, Keith targeted Gaetz.

“I will file one against Matt Gaetz as well. It will be his second serious offense,” wrote Keith.

The next day, Gaetz, who serves on the House Armed Services Subcommittee, responded.

“Pam – I’ve never lost an election,” tweeted Gaetz. “Honest Questions: How many times have you run? How many wins? (The voters just aren’t that into you…)”



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