Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, is set to speak at a Republican fundraiser in New Hampshire despite being scrutinized in a federal investigation into allegations of child sex trafficking.
Every year, Nashua Republican City Committee Vice Chair Di Lothrop is responsible for booking the keynote speaker for the annual fundraiser.
"I was looking for someone who was, like, a firebrand," Lothrop said of this year's search.
She got one. Gaetz was booked before the revelation that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating him.
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"Until that investigation is complete, we don't think it's appropriate for him to be coming to New Hampshire," said the chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Ray Buckley.
Buckley said the party organized a petition calling on Gov. Chris Sununu to disinvite Gaetz.
"The people of New Hampshire are really disgusted by the allegations against Gaetz," Buckley said.
Lothrop deflected from the allegations, claiming Democrats are trying to silence the voice of a strong, Trump-supporting conservative — though the investigation began under President Donald Trump's attorney general, William Barr, according to reports.
"You know, it's all innuendo," she said. "To me, it's just a smear campaign."
Gaetz has not been charged with a crime. He has denied wrongdoing. Lothrop noted that he is innocent until proven guilty.
"These are the same people that stood behind Trump no matter what he did for four-and-a-half years. So their judgment, apparently, is pretty off," Buckley said.
More on the investigation of Matt Gaetz
Political analyst Scott Spradling said the Democrats' petition will certainly help to rile the base, but he said Sununu has little say in the matter.
"It's going to be very difficult for them to drag Gov. Sununu into something like this because he doesn't call the shots over events such as this one in Nashua," Spradling said.
The real risk falls on those who are hosting Gaetz, he said.
"There's firebrands, and then there's federal investigations for sexual behavior with potentially underage people," Spradling said. "That's a whole different category."
Asked what would happen if Gaetz were found guilty, Lothrop said she would take his conviction into consideration.