Matt Gaetz posed on a playground for a 2015 campaign ad and said he'd 'always fight to protect our kids'

  • Matt Gaetz ran a campaign ad in 2015 promising to “always fight to protect our kids.”
  • He touted his record pushing sex crimes legislation in the Florida House of Representatives.
  • Gaetz is now under investigation for sex trafficking that reportedly involves a 17-year-old.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Matt Gaetz appeared on a playground with a child swinging behind him in a 2015 campaign ad.  

“I’m Matt Gaetz, and I’ll always fight to protect our kids,” he said. 

At the time, Gaetz was running for a Florida state Senate seat and touting his record on cracking down on sex offenders. 

Gaetz’s ad described the case of Cherish Perrywinkle, an 8-year-old girl who was murdered in 2013. The man convicted of killing her had a record of sex offenses and had been released from jail a few weeks before the murder. 

“The system was broken, so I led the fight to fix it,” Gaetz said in the ad.

As the chairman of the Florida House of Representatives’ criminal justice subcommittee in 2014, Gaetz helped advance legislation that among other things increased the mandatory prison time for convicted violent sexual offenders to 50 years. 

In early 2016, Gaetz, dropped his bid to replace his father, Don Gaetz, in the Florida state Senate. The younger Gaetz instead ran for a US House seat, winning it later that year.

Read more: Insider watched 11 hours of old Florida House hearings when Matt Gaetz pushed sexual predator legislation. He wanted ‘scorched earth’ penalties.

Gaetz’s record on sex crimes is the subject of renewed attention now that the 38-year-old congressman is under investigation by the Justice Department for sex trafficking allegations. 

Federal officials are investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, the New York Times reported last month. 

Separately, the House Committee on Ethics is investigating Gaetz over several matters, including accusations of sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, campaign finance violations, and showing photos of nude women to colleagues while on the House floor.

Gaetz has acknowledged that he’s the subject of an investigation but denies the allegations against him. 

“He is innocent of the wild and disgraceful lies leveled at him by the partisan media, without evidence, and with every day that passes, that is increasingly clear,” his spokesman Harlan Hill told Insider Friday. 

Florida’s then-Gov. Rick Scott signed the sexual predator legislation into law in 2014. 

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