My father, Lt. Col. Sam Lombardo (US ARMY RET) was a bonafide member of the greatest generation. He courageously fought the Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, and served in Korea and Vietnam. He, like so many of that generation, sacrificed their lives for a cause greater than their own self-interest.
Recently, Matt Gaetz was one of only 18 Members of Congress to oppose the admittance of Sweden and Finland into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – a position shared by Russian President Vladmir Putin. Days later, it was revealed that Gaetz took thousands of dollars from a man who hosted “friendship dinners” with convicted Russian spy Maria Butina.
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When Gaetz was exposed for accepting these funds, he tried to deflect the accusations by saying he received money from many donors, including my father, Lt. Col. Sam Lombardo.
It is true that my dad, in his late 90s, made small contributions to Matt Gaetz before he died at 102. Like all of Matt Gaetz’s donors, my dad trusted him to use that money to further conservative ideals. Had my father known that Gaetz would use his money to pay pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s attorney, he would have never given him a penny.
Gaetz broke my dad’s, and thousands of other donors’ trust when he used their money to pay the attorney most known for defending the world’s worst child-sex trafficker. To think that money my dad earned as a decorated combat veteran on the field of battle went to Gaetz’s sex-trafficking defense infuriates me and my family. In addition, knowing Gaetz raises money from elderly and working-class people under the deception of making America great and then uses that money for defending himself against charges that have nothing to do with his work in Congress or campaign, is shameful. It’s a total betrayal of trust.
An even bigger betrayal is that Gaetz put himself into a position that he needed a sex-trafficking defense attorney while serving on the Congressional Armed Services Committee.
As a member of the Committee, Gaetz has access to Top Secret, classified information. Anyone who has worked in national security or for the military knows that engaging in prostitution, orgies, sex-trafficking and illegal drug use while holding a security clearance leaves them vulnerable to blackmail by foreign intelligence agents. This is especially true for senior government officials who partake in illicit activities on foreign soil – like Gaetz is reported to have done.
Despicably, Gaetz’s recent behavior fits a pattern. On the U.S. House Floor, he reportedly showed comprising photos of girls with whom he had sex. As a State Representative, Gaetz reportedly played degrading sex games, scoring “extra points” for getting married legislators or sorority girls in bed. Gaetz also escaped prosecution for drunk driving after being arrested, an offer unlikely to be given to nearly any other Northwest Floridian.
Matt Gaetz’s behavior in a foreign country, poor choices and lack of judgement betrays our government, its veterans, our active-duty military, and intelligence agents whose lives depend on keeping secrets closely guarded, as well as Gaetz’s oath to protect and defend the Constitution.
Congressman Gaetz’s betrayal of the public trust is profound. Gaetz did not only betray my beloved father, Lt. Col. Sam Lombardo; he betrayed each one of us.
This primary election, August 23, 2022, Northwest Florida Republicans can stop this awful betrayal before any further damage is done.
Mark Lombardo is a Marine veteran, former FedEx executive and pilot, and candidate for Congress running in the Republican Primary.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Mark Lombardo: Matt Gaetz didn't just betray my father, he betrayed all of us