Matt Gaetz says USPS 'covert operations program' is 'classic government'

May 4, 2021
In The News

Matt Gaetz says the U.S. Postal Service should not be keeping tabs on citizens' lives.

The Florida Republican told former Trump White House adviser Sebastian Gorka the recent reports of a program known as the Internet Covert Operations Program, which involves analysts combing through social media sites looking for “inflammatory” postings and then sharing those posts with government agencies, demonstrates that a "deep state" exists within the federal government.

"This is classic government, OK? ... The post office has an internet covert operations program to spy on the social media political behavior of our fellow Americans," Gaetz said on Monday, touting his proposed legislation that would defund the program. "If folks don't think the deep state is real ... this is the example that shows that even at the post office, the government is growing out of control and into our lives."

The USPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner, but it provided a general statement to Yahoo News about the authority it has to monitor the social media presence of U.S. citizens.

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the primary law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service,” the statement read. “As such, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has federal law enforcement officers, Postal Inspectors, who enforce approximately 200 federal laws to achieve the agency’s mission: protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail.”

Gaetz's bill, which currently has nine co-sponsors, says the program is "not only illegal for operating outside of its stated jurisdiction, but also politically motivated in its target."

"The Postal Service should deliver the mail on time and on budget. They shouldn’t have a covert surveillance program to monitor social media political behavior, protected by our cherished Constitution. As the dangers of government surveillance and targeting become ever the more clear, especially to conservatives, Congress must immediately abolish this program," Gaetz said of the proposal.

Federal investigators are looking into whether Gaetz had sexual relations with a minor or paid for sex. The investigation grew out of a broader investigation into Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida, who was indicted in 2020 on charges that included sex trafficking of a minor and financially supporting people in exchange for sex.

The House Ethics Committee has also opened an investigation to "gather additional information" about the accusations of inappropriate behavior from Gaetz, who has repeatedly denied doing anything illegal. No woman has publicly accused Gaetz of wrongdoing, and he has charged that the investigation is tied to an extortion scheme involving his father and a $25 million loan.

During Monday's interview with Gorka, Gaetz repeated his claims that he and his family were extorted, saying, "One person trying to extort me is a former [Department of Justice] official, [and] another person trying to extort me was getting paid by the State Department as recently as 2019."

The Florida congressman is set to embark on an "America First Tour" with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who co-sponsored his bill to defund the USPS's surveillance program. Their first rally is scheduled for Friday at The Villages in Florida.