Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Fort Walton Beach Republican ubiquitous on conservative media and notorious for an ongoing FBI investigation into whether he had sex with an underage girl, has drawn a GOP Primary challenger in the contest for Florida’s 1st Congressional District.
Mark Lombardo, a former U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam, is pledging to put $1 million into his campaign. He’s a retired FedEx executive, and a release announcing his run said he “helped get the company off the ground in the early days.”
Fox News was the first to report Lombardo’s announcement.
“The people of Northwest Florida need a Congressman who will put them first,” Lombardo said in a released statement.
“Matt Gaetz is a professional politician who has dishonored his constituents with unnecessary drama, childish gimmicks, and is reportedly entangled in a federal investigation for sex-trafficking a 17-year-old girl to the Bahamas. Displaying the highest level of arrogance imaginable, he hired pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s attorneys and used the money from his hardworking America First donors to pay the bill. His actions are disgraceful and do not reflect or represent the conservative values of Northwest Florida.”
The FBI investigation into Gaetz was first reported by the New York Times on March 31, 2021, and is tied to activities related to former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, a close friend of Gaetz who awaits sentencing for multiple federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, wire fraud and identity theft. Greenberg is cooperating with the FBI in the Gaetz case. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with anything.
“I’m America First without the drama and gimmicks,” Lombardo said. “Washington is broken because of people like Matt Gaetz. If you want to change Washington, send a Marine. I’ll get the job done.”
The only other high-profile candidate in the race for District 1 is Rebekah Jones, the former Department of Health whistleblower who is running as a Democrat in the heavily Republican seat.