As time goes on, things get worse for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his friend, the former Seminole County tax collector and now alleged sex trafficker Joel Greenberg.
Gaetz has acknowledged that he’s under federal investigation, but he’s denied wrongdoing and attempted to change the topic, claiming that the probe is part of a seemingly separate extortion attempt aimed at him and his family. Authorities are reportedly investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old, and whether she received anything of value.
Greenberg has also pleaded not guilty to the trafficking charge and a long list of other federal offenses on which he’s been indicted.
But new reports dig the congressman into deeper trouble.
CNN reported overnight that an employee at the tax collector’s office once saw Greenberg and Gaetz on an internal surveillance video, looking through driver licenses on a weekend evening.
An employee at that office reportedly arrived on Monday morning to find driver licenses scattered on the desk, instead of in a disposal basket. She told her boss, who asked Greenberg what had happened in a text message. The text, which the Daily Beast said was dated April 16, 2018, was shared with federal investigators last January, the outlets reported.
“Did you happen to visit the Lake Mary Office on the weekend?” the message read, according to the Daily Beast.
“Yes I was showing congressman Gaetz what our operation looked like,” Greenberg reportedly replied. “Did I leave something on?”
It’s unclear if federal investigators have access to that surveillance footage — Seminole County officials told the Daily Beast and the Orlando Sentinel that surveillance video is deleted after 60 days.
But the reported nighttime rummaging through seemingly discarded ID cards fits with existing allegations against Greenberg.
As part of the 33 counts — spread across four indictments — against Greenberg, a grand jury alleged that he “used his access to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office to take surrendered driver licenses before they were shredded.”
Greenberg also used his access to a state database, the Florida Driver and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID), to run searches that weren’t for any permissible use, the grand jury alleged of the former tax collector.
What’s more, Greenberg is alleged to have obtained and used the personal information about individuals with whom he was engaged in “sugar daddy” relationships, according to the indictments.
And, in addition to allegedly using the information from others’ discarded licenses to make fake IDs with his own face on them, Greenberg is also accused of using DAVID records to facilitate his efforts to engage in commercial sex acts.
On September 4, 2017, Greenberg allegedly illegally obtained the name, photograph and driver identification number of the “Minor Victim” discussed in the indictments — a girl between 14 and 17 years old who Greenberg is accused of causing to engage in a commercial sex act sometime between May and November 2017.
This is where new reporting, again, makes things worse for Gaetz: The New York Times reported Thursday that Greenberg met women through websites such as Seeking Arrangement — a destination for so-called Sugar Daddy/Baby relationships — and then introduced them to Gaetz for sex.
The Times also reported that the 17-year-old girl federal investigators are trying to determine whether Gaetz had sex with is the same girl that is discussed in the sex trafficking count against Greenberg.
In other words: Greenberg is accused of illegally accessing the government information of a 17-year-old girl in 2017, and also of sex trafficking her. And new reporting indicates that authorities are aware of a 2018 text message in which Greenberg acknowledges bringing Gaetz by a branch of the tax collector’s office at night, where an employee later found a mess of IDs scattered on a desk.
Does Rep. Gaetz recall this nighttime visit? Does he dispute any part of these three reports? Was he aware of Greenberg’s alleged abuse of a government database and discarded driver licenses? Was Gaetz ever aware that Greenberg was allegedly using illegally obtained personal information in furtherance of a sex crime?
The congressman’s office didn’t respond to TPM’s questions Friday.