When The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Matt Gaetz was under investigation for allegedly having sex with a minor and transporting her across state lines, the Florida congressman probably figured it was the worst day he was going to have for a while. But, surprise! The news about Gaetz has somehow gotten even grosser in the days since.
On Thursday, CNN reported that the Republican lawmaker allegedly showed nude photos of women he said he’d slept with to fellow lawmakers, including while on the House floor. Sources, including two who were personally shown the material, said Gaetz pulled up the images on his phone and bragged about all the sex he’d had with the women. “It was a point of pride,” one of the sources said. As CNN notes, there is no indication that the pictures are connected to the Department of Justice investigation, meaning this may be an entirely unrelated instance of Gaetz being a creepy, pathetic dude-bro.
Speaking of the DOJ investigation, though, also on Thursday the Times reported that the probe into Gaetz and indicted Florida politician Joel Greenberg is “focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.” Investigators are said to believe that Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida—who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge, among other crimes—would meet the women through websites like Seeking Arrangement and then introduce them to Gaetz. According to the Times, “one of the women who had sex with both men also agreed to have sex with an unidentified associate of theirs in Florida Republican politics, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.”
Incredibly, Gaetz appears to have paid the women not just in cash but through mobile payment apps like Apple Pay, which of course generate receipts for transactions. The Times reviewed some of those receipts allegedly showing payments from Gaetz and Greenberg to one of the women, as well as an apparent payment from Greenberg to a second woman. The women reportedly told friends that the payments were for sex with Gaetz and Greenberg. Per the Times:
In encounters during 2019 and 2020, Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Greenberg instructed the women to meet at certain times and places, often at hotels around Florida, and would tell them the amount of money they were willing to pay, according to the messages and interviews. One person said that the men also paid in cash, sometimes withdrawn from a hotel ATM. Some of the men and women took ecstasy, an illegal mood-altering drug, before having sex, including Mr. Gaetz, two people familiar with the encounters said.
In some cases, Mr. Gaetz asked women to help find others who might be interested in having sex with him and his friends, according to two people familiar with those conversations. Should anyone inquire about their relationships, one person said, Mr. Gaetz told the women to say that he had paid for hotel rooms and dinners as part of their dates.
In a statement released Thursday night, the congressman’s office said, “Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex. Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.” A lawyer for Greenberg declined the Times’ request for comment. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty.
Incidentally, the women Gaetz allegedly paid for sex are separate from the 17-year-old girl he also allegedly had sex with. The minor in question is reportedly the same girl Greenberg was charged with sex trafficking. In June, the U.S. attorney’s office in Central Florida secured an initial indictment against Greenberg for allegedly stalking a political rival and using his elected office to make fake IDs. Which Gaetz apparently knows a little something about! Per the Daily Beast:
In late January 2020, U.S. Secret Service agents received information that Rep. Matt Gaetz had accompanied a Florida county tax official they were already investigating on an unusual nighttime visit to a government office—where the local official was allegedly making fake IDs, a source close to the investigation told the Daily Beast. That tip to the feds came in a text message conversation that Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg had with an employee explaining why they were both in the office one weekend two years earlier, according to this person. A timestamp visible in the text message thread indicated the conversation took place on Monday, April 16, 2018.
According to three people with direct knowledge of the incident: Greenberg visited the Lake Mary, Florida branch of his tax collection agency that weekend. Grainy surveillance footage captured Greenberg standing near a manager’s desk with another man. Greenberg forgot to set the alarm on the way out, which concerned the assistant branch manager when she walked into the office Monday morning. That employee was surprised to find that driver licenses—which are normally turned in when expired at the tax office for shredding—were scattered all over the desk instead of in the appropriate disposal basket. She reviewed the camera footage and alerted her boss, who in turn contacted Greenberg via text.
“Did you happen to visit the Lake Mary Office on the weekend?” the text message reportedly read.
Greenberg allegedly responded: “Yes I was showing congressman Gaetz what our operation looked like. Did I leave something on?”
According to the Times, Greenberg is potentially facing decades in prison stemming from a whopping three dozen charges against him. As for Gaetz, if prosecutors can prove the payments to the women were for sex, he could be charged with trafficking them under “force, fraud, or coercion.” Meanwhile: “It is also a violation of federal child sex trafficking law to provide someone under 18 with anything of value in exchange for sex, which can include meals, hotels, drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. A conviction carries a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.”
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