Rep. Matt Gaetz cannot stand to see a woman exploited. There’s nothing that upset him more than watching a member of the fairer sex be treated like an object for other people’s prurient gratification. The very thought of it sends him scurrying to his Venmo to order up some … tuition.
But this is not a post about the Florida congressman’s possible involvement in an underage prostitution scandal. This is about Britney Spears, and the clusterfuck surrounding her 13-year-long conservatorship.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny denied the 39-year-old singer’s request to remove her father Jamie Spears as conservator of her estate (AKA property, for those of you who live in states where only dead people have estates). Then yesterday, Bessemer Trust, whose appointment as co-conservator had been pending since November, filed an ex parte application to withdraw citing “changed circumstances.”
The company claims that attorney Samuel Ingham, III, who was appointed to represent the singer in 2008, represented to them that the conservatorship was voluntary. In his telling, Britney Spears was delighted to hand over millions of dollars every year for the privilege of having her personal and professional life controlled by her father and paid care mangers.
Leave aside for a moment the plausibility of this claim when the singer had very publicly refused to work since 2019 “as long as her father is in charge of her career.” Although, giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps the reality is that Britney Spears welcomed Bessemer in the hopes that it would function as a check on her father.
But after last week’s hearing, in which the singer gave a harrowing statement describing herself as a virtual “slave,” prevented from making the most basic personal decisions, and even forced to keep an unwanted IUD in her body to prevent her having more children, Bessemer Trust wants out. Which is probably a wise PR move, because now they’ve got bigger problems than the Britney stans to worry about.
In a five-page letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey to ask that the agencies undertake an investigation of guardianship procedures in the states, both to ensure best practices and to determine if protected classes of persons are specifically targeted for abuse.
“Ms. Spears’ case has shined a light on longstanding concerns from advocates who have underscored the potential for financial and civil rights abuses of individuals placed under guardianship or conservatorship, typically older Americans and Americans with intellectual, developmental, and mental health disabilities,” they wrote, requesting “information about data collected by your agency on the prevalence of guardianship and conservatorship in the United States.”
Not to be outdone, Gaetz and his merry band of shit stirrers promptly fired off their own half-page mash note attempting to cast themselves as the pop star’s real savior.
“You have been mistreated by America’s legal system. We want to help,” wrote Reps. Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Biggs, and Burgess Owens, without specifying what help congress might provide regarding a state guardianship procedure.
We have been following your conservatorship battle with deep concern. We could see the struggle and torment you were enduring. We could see the obvious financial, emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of your conservators.
The federal courthouse door was closed to you and to too many Americans. Your story is so powerful, and the admiration of your achievements so great, you (and perhaps only you) can blow that door wide open, giving hope to millions. Your life, liberty, and happiness have been taken from you. Please take advantage of the empowerment that public congressional testimony can unlock.
This is clearly a very serious legislative undertaking, and not at all an attempt to exploit a vulnerable person for their own political aggrandizement. Because, you know, Matt Gaetz just hates that!
TL;DR? The whole thing is vile. But if Elizabeth Warren and Matt Gaetz both have you in their sites, it’s time to GTFO.
Elizabeth Dye (@5DollarFeminist) lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.