Federal investigators are examining a Bahamas trip Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) allegedly took as part of an inquiry into whether he violated sex trafficking laws, according to multiple reports.
CBS News reported that investigators are trying to determine if alleged paid female escorts on the trip –which reportedly took place in late 2018 or early 2019– were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with the congressman.
Sources told CBS News that Gaetz was joined on the trip by Jason Pirozzolo, a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon, who allegedly paid for the company of the women, in addition to travel expenses and accommodations.
NBC News also confirmed that the trip was under scrutiny and noted investigators were also looking into whether Gaetz and one of his associates used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex.
A spokesperson from Gaetz’s office in a statement to CBS News denied allegations that the Florida Republican had paid for sex or had sex with an underage girl, which are among the allegations being probed by investigators.
“Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with an underage girl. What began with blaring headlines about ‘sex trafficking’ has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults,” the spokesman said. It’s interesting to watch the Washington wheels grinding so hard every time one of their falsehoods gets knocked down.”
The New York Times reported last week that investigators believe that Gaetz made payments to women for sex and that he may have had sex with a 17-year-old girl who also allegedly had sex with one of Gaetz’s associates, Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector who was indicted on multiple charges including sex traffficking of a minor in August last year.
According to CBS News, investigators are also looking into whether or not Gaetz was accepting paid escorts in exchange for political access or legislative favors. That development comes after CNN reported last week that the investigation touched on whether or not federal campaign money was involved in paying for travel and expenses for women who had allegedly been recruited online for sex.
Gaetz, who has not been charged of wrongdoing, said in an op-ed published Monday that he is not a criminal and that he will not resign.
“Since I’m taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old,” Gaetz wrote in the Washington Examiner.