New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu Won't Attend GOP Fundraiser Where Matt Gaetz Is Speaking

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said Tuesday he will not attend a local GOP organization's fundraising dinner in August where Representative Matt Gaetz will be a keynote speaker, according to the Associated Press.

Sununu instead suggested that the organization should cancel its plans to have Gaetz speak. The Florida GOP congressman is under federal investigation for allegations of sex trafficking and sex with a minor.

"Until that investigation is complete, we don't think it's appropriate for him to be coming to New Hampshire," Ray Buckley, the chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said according to WCSH-TV.

Di Lothrop, vice chair of the Nashua Republican City Committee, booked Gaetz to be a speaker for the organization's fundraiser before it was known he was under federal investigation.

"The Nashua Republican City Committee should of course rescind their invitation. I'm surprised the committee hasn't already done so," Sununu told Newsweek. "I certainly will not attend an event headlined by Representative Gaetz."

Buckley said, "The people of New Hampshire are really disgusted by the allegations against Gaetz." Meanwhile, Lothrop said she believes the allegations against Gaetz are a smear campaign.

Gaetz has denied the allegations made against him and is not charged with any crime, according to the AP.

New Hampshire Governor Christopher Sununu
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu delivers remarks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 2, 2020, in Manchester. Sununu said on Tuesday that he will not attend a local GOP fundraiser in August where Representative Matt Gaetz is set to speak. Scott Eisen/Getty Images for DraftKings

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

House Republicans would "take action" on Gaetz if the Justice Department formally moves ahead against him, the chamber's No. 2 GOP leader said Wednesday.

The remarks by Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana made him the latest of many congressional Republicans who have opted against springing to the defense of the Florida Republican.

Scalise said in recent years, party leaders have removed Republican lawmakers facing serious charges from their committee assignments. That was essentially a restatement of the House GOP's internal rules, which require lawmakers to resign from committees if they are indicted for felonies with penalties of at least two years in prison.

"If something really formal happened from Justice, we would of course react and take action," Scalise told reporters.

Gaetz is a frequent face on conservative television networks and an ardent ally of former President Donald Trump. He serves on the Armed Services and Judiciary committees, and critics have said he should immediately be removed from the Judiciary panel because it oversees the Justice Department.

Scalise did not directly answer questions about whether he has confidence in Gaetz. Scalise said he's not yet discussed the allegations with Gaetz but expected to meet with him this week.

"It's serious things alleged. Obviously we want to get the facts," Scalise said.

Gaetz did not attend a weekly closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Wednesday, Scalise said. Asked for comment Tuesday after returning to Washington for a vote after Congress' two-week Easter recess, Gaetz referred reporters to a column he wrote last week saying he had not paid for sex and accusing his critics of being corrupt.

Florida's two Republican senators have also steered clear of voicing support for Gaetz. Most Republicans have taken neutral stances or said nothing about the three-term House lawmaker.

"Sure, and I don't think anyone's saying they're not," Senator Marco Rubio said Tuesday when a reporter suggested the allegations are serious. "And he's pretty firm in his denial, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out." Rubio said he's not spoken with Gaetz since news of the investigation emerged late last month.

On Monday, Senator Rick Scott said Gaetz faces "pretty serious allegations" but didn't say what should happen to him. "I think we've got to get all the facts," Scott said.

Both senators are considered potential 2024 presidential hopefuls.

Few GOP lawmakers have voiced support for Gaetz, who has said he will not resign. Trump issued a brief statement last week that said Gaetz "has totally denied the accusations against him."

Gaetz is also the focus of a bipartisan investigation by the House Ethics Committee of accusations including sexual misconduct, illegal drug use, spending campaign funds for personal use and accepting a bribe or impermissible gift. The committee has provided no additional detail.

Gaetz, 38, became engaged on New Year's Eve at Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida.

On Sunday, No. 3 House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming called the accusations against Gaetz "sickening" but didn't suggest he should resign. Gaetz has called for Cheney's defeat after she was among 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump's House impeachment in January.

Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois last week became the first GOP member of Congress to say Gaetz should surrender his House seat, tweeting, "Matt Gaetz needs to resign." Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, also voted to impeach Trump in January on a charge of inciting the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Gaetz and other Florida Republicans and political allies are being examined as part of a broad public corruption inquiry by federal investigators that began months ago, people familiar with the probe have said.

Prosecutors are said to be examining whether Gaetz and Joel Greenberg, a former county tax official, paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex.

One person said investigators were looking at trips Gaetz and other men took and whether women were paid or received gifts to have sex with them or later received government jobs.

It was also revealed in a Florida court last week that Greenberg was working toward a plea deal, which might mean he would provide prosecutors with information about the congressman. Greenburg pleaded not guilty to charges including child sex trafficking and fraud.