A Justice Department investigation involving Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is said to be focused on cash payments to multiple women who were recruited online for sex, The New York Times reported on Thursday night.
Receipts from Cash App and Apple Pay reviewed by the Times show payments from Gaetz and a former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg to one of the women and another payment from Greenberg to a second woman. The women told their friends that the payments were for sex with the two men, two people familiar with the conversations told the Times.
Messages and interviews conducted by the Times reveal that during encounters in 2019 and 2020, Gaetz and Greenberg often directed the women to meet at Florida hotels, and would tell them how much they were willing to pay. One person told the Times that the men sometimes withdrew cash for payment at a hotel ATM.
Gaetz and some of the women took ecstasy before having sex, two people familiar with the encounters said.
The investigation involving Gaetz stems from the Justice Department’s continuing inquiry into Greenberg, who faces dozens of charges and was indicted in August on the sex trafficking charge involving a 17-year-old girl.
People familiar with the investigation told the Times that the Justice Department is also investigating whether the Florida Republican had sex with the same teenage girl and whether she received anything of monetary value.
Investigators believe that Greenberg first met the women through websites, including one called Seeking Arrangement, that says it connects wealthy people to companions who they can shower with “with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances.” Greenberg allegedly introduced some of the women to Gaetz who also had sex with them.
Gaetz has denied ever paying a woman for sex and meanwhile has sought desperately to divert attention from the Justice Department investigation by claiming that he and his father were the targets of an extortion plot.
One of the women Greenberg contacted online had sex with both men and also agreed to have sex with a third person reportedly involved in Florida Republican politics, who has not been publicly identified, the Times said.
Gaetz sometimes asked women for help identifying others who might want to have sex with him and his friends, two people familiar with those conversations told the Times. One of the people added that the GOP lawmaker told the women to say that he had paid for hotel rooms and dinners as part of the dates if anyone asked about their arrangement.
No charges have been brought against Gaetz. Earlier this week he said that his lawyers had been in touch with the Justice Department and that he was the subject of the investigation rather than its target.
“I only know that it has to do with women,” Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”
Gaetz’s office issued a statement to the Times on Thursday night maintaining that the congressman had not paid for sex.
“Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex,” the statement said. “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.”