Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) filed a formal ethics complaint against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) after Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) accused the ex-House leader of elbowing him in a hallway Tuesday.
“This incident deserves immediate and swift investigation by the Ethics committee,” Gaetz wrote in a letter to House Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest (R-Miss.) and ranking member Susan Wild (D-Pa.).
“Congress has seen a substantial increase in breaches of decorum unlike anything we have ever seen since the pre-Civil War era.”
McCarthy appeared to bump into Burchett as he passed in a Capitol hallway Tuesday, which Burchett said was a deliberate elbow to his back.
McCarthy later told reporters the interaction was not deliberate, and that he was simply moving past Burchett in a small hallway.
“I guess our elbows hit as I walked by,” McCarthy later told reporters, including CNN. “If I would hit somebody, they would I know hit them.”
Gaetz took Burchett’s side.
“I myself have been a victim of outrageous conduct on the House floor as well,” Gaetz wrote, an apparent reference to when House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) lunged at Gaetz during the 15-ballot election of McCarthy as Speaker in January, “but nothing like an open and public assault on a Member, committed by another Member. The rot starts at the top.”
Neither Gaetz’s ethics complaint nor Burchett’s accusation can be separated from both men being among the eight Republicans who joined with Democrats to oust the former Speaker last month.
McCarthy has long maintained that the motion to vacate led by Gaetz was personal, noting the Florida congressman, whom the Justice Department declined to charge after a lengthy sex-trafficking investigation, is facing another investigation by the House Ethics Committee. McCarthy accused Gaetz of retaliating against him for not quashing the investigation.
Told about Gaetz making an ethics complaint against him, McCarthy said: “Oh, good.”
“I think Ethics is a good place for Gaetz to be,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also recently told CNN that Burchett and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who also voted to oust McCarthy, “care a lot about press, not about policy.”