Fact Check: Did Matt Gaetz Get Locked Out of a Chuck E. Cheese?

A short video purportedly showing Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz trying to enter a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant and being blocked by a security guard on the other side of the door has gone viral on social media Wednesday, April 7.

The footage shows Gaetz attempting to enter the building, then as the door remains shut, asking "What if I put my mask on?" A female voice behind the camera then asks "Now let's see if they lock him out too. This is ridiculous!"

Upon failing to enter the premises, the congressman says in frustration: "We are just here to ask questions, and now they've locked the door," and the video cuts off.

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene
U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speak about what they say happened during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 6, 2022. Gaetz and Greene were refused entry to a federal penitentiary facility on July 29, 2021, but the footage of the incident has since been used in a misleading way. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Claim

"Matt Gaetz Refused Entry to a Tennessee Chuck E. Cheese..." says a post by Twitter user BinxBolling2021 accompanying the video.

"Rep. Gaetz locked out of a birthday party for a 12 year old girl at downtown Chuck E. Cheese," the caption on the video claims.

The tweet received more than 22,000 interactions, including 18,000 likes. It also fueled identical claims by other social media users.

"Chuck E Cheese won't even let Gaetz in the building, blacklisted him real quick after he begged to host his bachelor party there. Yet, there he sits in congress, big vacuous head bobbling about & spewing bile at folks whose only crime is actually giving a fuck about this country," another tweet said.

"Matt Gaetz not being allowed into Chuck E Cheese should be the rule at all establishments for kids," another Twitter user claimed.

The Facts

While the footage with Gaetz is genuine, it is dated and the caption is misleading.

The events in fact took place on July 29, 2021, at a Washington DC correctional facility, where a number of January 6 insurrection suspects were being held at the time.

A group of GOP lawmakers, including Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), briefly entered the lobby of the facility in order to inspect the conditions of suspected Capitol rioters in custody, and were turned away by the security guards after trying to return.

Gaetz later said that after they had entered the building, they met with the supervisor and had a brief discussion, before being led outside and doors were locked behind them.

"You are now obstructing entry into this facility," one of the guards can be heard telling the visitors in a longer version of the video.

The lawmakers were also accompanied by several journalists and a camera crew. At one point they are being told to "turn off the camera" by the guards. A sign can be seen in the background stating that filming on the premises is not allowed.

The pair live-streamed the events, with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) also taking part.

"We absolutely are not trespassing and if that attitude is any indication of how they're treating their prisoners inside I have great concerns," Greene later told journalists present at the scene.

A spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) later said in a statement to The Hill that the lawmakers showed up "unannounced with an unauthorized camera crew requesting a facility tour."

Back in July 2021, a number of Republicans accused the Department of Justice of mistreatment of insurrection suspects detained following the January 6 Capitol riot, an accusation the DoJ denied. Opponents of Gaetz and Greene called the move a "PR stunt."

The Ruling

Fact Check - False

False.

The claim that a video shows Rep. Matt Gaetz being turned away from a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant is false. The footage in fact depicts a visit to a correctional facility in DC in the summer of 2021, where they were blocked from going inside and accused of "trespassing."

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false.
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