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Matt Gaetz's In-Laws Are Hosting a Big-Dollar Fundraiser for Dr. Oz

Jezebel 10/6/2022 Susan Rinkunas
Photo: Left: Mark Makela; Right: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images) © Photo: Left: Mark Makela; Right: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images) Photo: Left: Mark Makela; Right: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images)

There’s a $5,000-a-plate-mininum fundraising dinner tonight for New Jersey resident and Pennsylvania Senate nominee Mehmet Oz, and the top-billed event chair is none other than Matt Gaetz’s brother-in-law.

You’ll recall that Gaetz (R-Fl.) is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking, statutory rape of a 17-year-old, and obstruction of justice, and reportedly sought a pre-emptive pardon for those crimes. The event in Santa Ana, California, is chaired by Palmer Luckey, the billionaire founder of Oculus VR and brother of Gaetz’s wife, Ginger.

Attending a fundraiser hosted by the in-laws of a sex pest congressman is certainly a choice for Oz, a candidate who’s said lots of very creepy things about women and sex, himself. The event comes as Oz faces scrutiny following a Jezebel report that he oversaw scientific experiments that lead to the deaths and torture of more than 300 dogs and hundreds of other animals. Vanity Fair referred to it as “puppygate.”

Here is the flier for tonight’s event, which also features National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (Fl.) and Nevada Senate nominee Adam Laxalt:

Screenshot: Contributed photo © Screenshot: Contributed photo Screenshot: Contributed photo

(Not all of the Luckey siblings are fond of Gaetz: Roxanne Luckey called him “weird and creepy” and “a literal pedophile” in a string of TikTok videos and said the Congressman pressured an older man to hit on her when she was 19.)

Neither the Oz or Fetterman campaign has responded to Jezebel’s requests for comment.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Patrick Burgwinkle told Jezebel in a statement: “Rick Scott wants Mehmet Oz in the Senate so he can be a vote for his disastrous plan to raise taxes on working Americans and threaten Medicare and Social Security. Matt Gaetz’s family wants Mehmet Oz in the Senate because the only test of character Oz cares about is net worth and Oz will happily take care of the Gaetz family and other millionaires like himself.”

Sawyer Hackett, a Democratic strategist with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told Jezebel in a statement: “Whether it’s selling bogus weight loss scams, torturing dogs for research, courting Donald Trump, or collecting checks from the family of a child trafficker and pedophile like Matt Gaetz, Dr. Oz will go to dangerous lengths to help himself. That’s not the kind of leader we need in the Senate making decisions on issues that impact everyday working families.”

Fetterman referenced the high-dollar fundraiser in a tweet on Thursday:

The Fetterman campaign announced that it had raised $22 million in the third quarter of 2022—a record for a Pennsylvania Senate candidate—doubling its second-quarter haul of $11 million, the previous record. Oz’s campaign raised $17.2 million in the third quarter, but $7 million of that came from the candidate himself (he made a lot of money thanks to Oprah). In the second quarter, Oz raised $5.5 million with a $3.2 million loan. Yes, that means the TV doctor has lent his campaign more than $10 million in the last six months, alone.

Despite Fetterman’s massive fundraising advantage, Oz appears to be closing on him in the polls. It could be partly because of Fox News’ incessant negative coverage of Fetterman, but also because of absolutely massive amounts of outside spending from political action committees.

The political spending database OpenSecrets shows that outside groups have dumped more than $70 million in the Pennsylvania general election thus far, the most of any Senate race. From the May 17 primary through October 4, outside groups spent $66.8 million, with $39.5 million in spending on pro-Republican/anti-Democratic ads, compared to $27 million in pro-Democratic/anti-Republican spending. The Mitch McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund has spent $26.8 million attacking Fetterman and not a penny promoting Oz, while the Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC has spent just under $4 million supporting their nominee and $8.7 million attacking Oz. The Republican Party is outspending Democrats by more than two-to-one in this race. If Oz ends up winning, it will be a pretty huge embarrassment for Democratic leadership.

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