Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department for sex trafficking of an underage woman, seems to have committed another violation: failure to disclose the money he raked in from a book he published last year.
The Daily Beast reported on Wednesday that upon inquiring about the undisclosed book income last week, a Gaetz spokesperson claimed that the office needed “additional documentation” from the publisher and was “in the process of receiving that information and amending the Congressman’s financial disclosure.” An amended financial disclosure was filed three days after the Daily Beast’s inquiry.
Gaetz’s spokesperson reportedly did not respond to follow-up questions from the outlet about the nature of the documents nor reasons why the Florida congressman did not have them when he filed his original disclosure days before the deadline.
According to the Daily Beast, Gaetz’s amended financial disclosure said that his publishing contract awarded him 60 percent royalties — a share typically reserved for online distributor sales of self-published work, and is more than double the royalty rates of hardcover sales.
Lawmakers must request permission from ethics officials to accept royalties, which can be granted if the publishing deal is under “usual and customary contractual terms,” according to House rules.
Gaetz’s book titled “Firebrand” could be purchased in book and online stores in September, after last year’s financial disclosure deadline.
Gaetz’s amended financial disclosure claims that he earned exactly $25,000 from book sales last year, after his agent Sergio Gor — a former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who officiated Gaetz’s surprise wedding last weekend — received 30 percent of his personal profits.
According to the Daily Beast’s calculations, Gaetz’s $25,000 earnings combined with the publishing terms he’s under means that his book wasn’t a firebrand in sales itself. Gaetz’s reported profits suggest that “Firebrand” raked in a total of about $59,500 between August and December — which would net his contracted publisher, Post Hill Press, a little less than $15,000.
The Daily Beast notes that hardcover copies that originally went for $27 can now be purchased for less than $10. Gaetz’s amended disclosure suggests that with a $27 price tag, the Florida congressman sold 2,200 books. Even with the discounted price of $10, Gaetz would have sold fewer than 6,000 copies in the span of several months.