Gaetz files ethics complaint against McCarthy for ‘elbowing’ GOP rep

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz has filed an ethics complaint against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy after he reportedly shoved one of the members who voted to oust him in the halls of Congress.

Mr McCarthy was seen by reporters elbowing Rep Tim Burchett, who told CNN afterwards that it was a “clean shot to the kidneys”.

Claudia Grisales of NPR was speaking to Mr Burchett at the time on Tuesday, writing on X that she had “never seen this on Capitol Hill”.

“While talking to @RepTimBurchett after the GOP conference meeting, former @SpeakerMcCarthy walked by with his detail and McCarthy shoved Burchett. Burchett lunged towards me. I thought it was a joke, it was not. And a chase ensued,” she wrote.

A spokesperson for Mr Burchett told The Independent: “I don’t have any official comments on the incident from the Congressman, but I do not have anything in that tweet that I wish to correct.”

Mr Gaetz, the instigator of the push to oust Mr McCarthy in October, accused the former speaker of assaulting Mr Busrchett in his ethics complaint.

Mr McCarthy later appeared on CNN saying: “I guess our shoulders hit ... I did not kidney punch him.”

“I didn’t punch anybody,” he added.

Regarding the ethics complaint from Mr Gaetz, whose personal rivalry with Mr McCarthy is well known in the Capitol, the former speaker told CNN: “Oh good .... I think that’s a good place for Gaetz to be.”

“Burchett’s back was to McCarthy and his detail walking by in the hallway, then the lunge. Burchett responded jokingly as McCarthy kept walking,” Ms Grisales wrote on X.

“Sorry Kevin didn’t mean to elbow–” he began before yelling in a serious tone: “Why’d you elbow me in the back Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts!?”

Mr Burchett looked at the reporter and called Mr McCarthy a “jerk”. Asked if Mr McCarthy had done that previously, Mr Burchett said he hadn’t.

“That’s when the chase ensued. Burchett took off after McCarthy and his detail. I chased behind with my mic,” Ms Grisales recalled shortly after the altercation before 11am on Tuesday.

After running after the former speaker, Mr Burchett asked: “Hey Kevin, why’d you walk behind me and elbow me in the back?”

“I didn’t elbow you in the back,” Mr McCarthy responded, according to the NPR congressional correspondent.

“You got no guts, you did so ... the reporter said it right there, what kind of chicken move is that? You’re pathetic man, you are so pathetic,” Mr Burchett said. “You need security, Kevin!”

Mr Burchett told NPR that it was the first time he had spoken to the former speaker since his ouster in early October, calling Mr McCarthy “childish”.

“Did you just see that?” Mr Burchett asked the reporter “in disbelief”.

“I’m stunned, too,” Ms Grisales wrote on X.

Mr Burchett told her that he wouldn’t follow up with the ex-speaker on the incident.

“He’s on a downhill spiral ... that was pretty gutless of him. I’m disappointed ... in him,” he said.

“He’s got $17m to work against me,” Mr Burchett said of Mr McCarthy’s campaign war chest. “He should have kept his word. I think that just showed what he’s about and it’s unfortunate.”

“He’s 12,” Mr Burchett told Insider regarding Mr McCarthy.

Following the incident, Mr Burchett appeared on CNN, saying that he didn’t expect “a guy who was at one time three steps away from the White House ... hit you with a sucker punch in the hallway”.

“I wasn't looking to knock him out or anything,” Mr Burchett said of the following confrontation after the initial shove.

“It still hurts because it was a shot to the kidneys,” he told CNN’s Manu Raju, adding that he wasn’t going to file an ethics complaint because Mr McCarthy is “not worth it”.

Asked if he was accusing the former speaker of assault, Mr Burchett said “I don't know. Ask a lawyer. It's over as far as I'm concerned”.

Mr Raju noted that Mr McCarthy argued that the incident wasn’t intentional and that it was simply a tight hallway where he bumped into Mr Burchett.

“There’s 435 congressmen. I was one of eight that voted against him. That hallway ... there's plenty of room, you could walk side by side. He chose to do what he did. And it'll end right here. I'm sure it'll just be a little asterisk on his storied career,” Mr Burchett said.

“I didn’t shove or elbow him, it’s a tight hallway,” the ex-speaker said on CNN.

“He doesn’t keep his word and I think this pretty much shows what he did,” Mr Burchett said of Mr McCarthy. “It’s just the way it is with him ... he could have gone out on top and he’s chosen to go this route.”

“I actually feel sorry for him. I pray for him every day. You might not believe that, but I do. I pray for him and I hope he finds some happiness in his life,” he added.

The Independent has reached out to the office of Mr McCarthy for comment.