Federal investigators who are probing allegations that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) made payments to multiple women who were recruited online for sex have also looked into whether any federal campaign money was involved in paying for travel and expenses for the women, CNN reported late Thursday.
The development comes after a separate revelation that investigators have focused on payments Gaetz made using the Cash App and Apple Pay in his encounters with the women. The women told friends that the payments were for sex. Sometimes, they said they were paid in cash from ATMs located in Florida hotels.
The investigation involving Gaetz stems from the Justice Department’s continuing inquiry into former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, who was indicted in August on a sex trafficking charge involving a teenage girl. Greenberg has since been hit with a slew of federal charges.
The Justice Department is also examining whether Gaetz had sex with the same girl when she was 17-years-old and whether she received anything of monetary value.
Sources told The New York Times that authorities have looked into whether other men connected to Gaetz and Greenberg also had sex with the teenage girl, who reportedly agreed to sex with a third unidentified person involved in Florida Republican politics.
Gaetz has denied paying anyone for sex and has distracted from the investigation by claiming that he and his father were the targets of an extortion plot.
Gaetz’s ties to Greenberg appear to span beyond the sex trafficking allegations, and may go deeper than previously publicly known.
According to CNN, a witness provided evidence to prosecutors from the local U.S. attorney’s office back in January 2020, that could further intertwine Gaetz with Greenberg who is facing dozens of other charges aside from sex trafficking, including potentially for a scheme involving fabricating fake IDs.
A person familiar with the matter told CNN that an employee at the former tax collector’s office saw Greenberg and Gaetz on office surveillance video looking through driver licenses on a weekend evening that reportedly took place in 2019.
Text messages from the source viewed by CNN appear to show Greenberg and the employee discussing the office visit, and Greenberg confirming he was at the office “showing congressman Gaetz what our operation looked like.”
There is no indication that the IDs handled in the video were used unlawfully.