Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) departed on a Bahamas trip in September 2018 that included at least five young women, including a young woman that Gaetz allegedly had sex with when she was a minor, Politico reported late Tuesday.
New details about the previously reported trip to the Bahamas reveal that the group departed on three separate flights and a majority of the group flew out of Orlando on two separate private planes, Politico said.
One of the women in the group told Politico that no one on the trip engaged in prostitution and that everyone on the trip was over the age of 18 — including the woman who allegedly had sex with Gaetz when she was underage. The source claimed that the young woman in question had turned 18 months before the trip, Politico said. Her official date of birth has not been confirmed.
Politico sources separately revealed that federal agents seized Gaetz’s iPhone during a search warrant this winter. The phone of his ex-girlfriend was also reportedly seized. The congressman changed his phone number late last year, according to Politico.
While many details about the 2018 Bahamas trip remain unclear they are critical to federal investigators who are probing the Florida congressman’s alleged involvement with women who were allegedly recruited online for sex and given cash payments, as well as whether he had sex with a 17-year-old and also violated sex trafficking laws.
According to Politico, some of the women on the Bahamas trip got connected to Gaetz and his associate, former Seminole County tax collector, Joel Greenberg, through Seeking Arrangement a website that says it connects wealthy people to companions who they can shower “with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances.”
Greenberg who faces wide-ranging charges, and was indicted in August on a charge involving sex trafficking a minor, was not invited to the Bahamas, three people who have spoken with Gaetz told Politico.
The congressman was joined on the trip, however, by then state legislator, Halsey Beshears, and Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and GOP fundraiser for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to the three Politico sources, including one who was part of the group.
Questions regarding the ages of at least three of the women on the trip surfaced when U.S. Customs briefly stopped and questioned Beshears, sources familiar with the trip, including a woman on the flight, told Politico.
Gaetz, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, has denied allegations that he had sex with a minor and has also denied that he paid for sex. He has also rebuffed calls for his resignation amid the probe.
“The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild — and I mean wild — conspiracy theories. I won’t be intimidated by a lying media,” Gaetz said at an event hosted at Trump National Doral Miami by the group Women for America First on Friday. “The truth will prevail,” he added.