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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), when he was a state representative in Florida, killed a bill in 2014 that would have banned nonconsensual pornography, or "revenge porn," in the state. That bill, passed unanimously in the state Senate and with 17 House co-sponsors, died when a House committee Gaetz chaired never gave it a hearing. When a version of the same Senate bill, watered down in the House, did pass in 2015, only Gaetz and one of his roommates, state Rep. John Tobia (R), voted against it, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Former state Rep. Tom Goodson (R), the main House sponsor of the nonconsensual porn ban, told the Sentinel on Monday that Gaetz was the main opponent of the legislation, which makes it illegal to share intimate images of a romantic partner without their consent. When Goodson met with Gaetz to discuss his opposition, he told the Sentinel, "Matt was absolutely against it. He thought the picture was his to do with what he wanted. ... He thought that any picture was his to use as he wanted to, as an expression of his rights."
Gaetz, whose father was Florida state Senate president from 2012 to 2014, "was a prominent figure in the Florida Legislature" and "a powerful opponent to legislation he didn't like," the Sentinel reports.
After reports emerged that the Justice Department is investigating Gaetz for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl and paying for sex with other women, multiple people in Congress told The Washington Post and CNN that Gaetz had taken out his phone and shown them nude photos and videos of women he said he'd slept with. If Gaetz did that, it would be "a twist of irony," former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) wrote in Vanity Fair on Monday, because when that "happened to me" in 2019, "Matt was the first member of Congress who publicly and unapologetically defended me, saying that while I might have made mistakes, I was a victim in this circumstance."
"Sharing intimate images or videos of someone without their consent should be illegal," even if it was "to brag about your sexual conquests, like Matt has been accused of doing," Hill wrote. "I've spent the last few months advocating for a bill called the SHIELD Act to be included as part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which just passed the House and is headed to the Senate." Gaetz, she added, "voted against that bill."