The New York Times reported Thursday that a Department of Justice inquiry into an associate of Matt Gaetz involves questions about whether he and Gaetz exchanged money and favors for sex with women, including a 17-year-old.
The Times report says:
A Justice Department investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, according to people close to the investigation and text messages and payment receipts reviewed by The New York Times.
Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes, initially met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel and allowances, according to three people with knowledge of the encounters. Mr. Greenberg introduced the women to Mr. Gaetz, who also had sex with them, the people said.
The Justice Department inquiry is also examining whether Mr. Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received anything of material value, according to four people familiar with the investigation. The sex trafficking count against Mr. Greenberg involved the same girl, according to two people briefed on the investigation.
One of the sites the men met women through was called Seeking Arrangement, which describes itself as a place where wealthy people find attractive companions and pamper them “with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances.” The site’s founder has said it has 20 million members worldwide. The F.B.I. mentioned the website in a conversation with at least one potential witness, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
The Times notes it is not illegal to provide adults with gifts, but it could be illegal if done in exchange for sex, and it is illegal to give “someone under 18 with anything of value in exchange for sex.” It suggests the ecstasy drug is part of the inquiry.
Gaetz has denied all of the allegations against him and has claimed that he is the victim of an extortion plot, about which he is cooperating with the DOJ. The Times story acknowledges that Gaetz appears to be cooperating with the DOJ in general.
“No charges have been brought against Mr. Gaetz, and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear,” the Times notes. A statement by Gaetz’s office to the Times denied that he had ever paid for sex, and had never “been on any such websites whatsoever,” adding: “Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.