One of the former girlfriends of Rep. Matt Gaetz is cooperating with prosecutors who are investigating whether the congressman paid minors and escorts or offered them gifts in exchange for sex, according to a report on Friday. The woman, however, hasn't been named. According to a CNN report, the woman worked on Capitol Hill and was linked to the Florida congressman as far back as 2017.
The news of the woman's willingness to cooperate with investigators comes days after Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector and longtime friend of Gaetz, pleaded guilty in Orlando federal court to six charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg also admitted that he had paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men.
Gaetz in Trouble
According to CNN, the former girlfriend decided to be part of the investigation after it was revealed that she filmed a video of herself naked hula-hooping, which she then sent to Gaetz. The congressman then reportedly shared the video with other members of Congress.
The revelations come just days after Gaetz's friend and tax collector Greenberg pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud and sexual offences. However, Gaetz's name was not mentioned in Greenberg's plea agreement or during Monday's hearing.
Gaetz's former girlfriend now being considered key to helping prosecutors piece together transaction records, which they believe to be payment for sex. Greenberg revealed to investigators that Gaetz and at two other men had sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl.
Last month, Politico reported that the Gaetz's former girlfriend had confided to her friends that she was worried that a 17-year-old girl who is key to the federal government's sex-crimes investigation tried to get her to incriminate Gaetz on a recorded call.
The woman reported called the ex-girlfriend to discuss a trip they all took to the Bahamas in September 2018. The call was made a few weeks after Greenberg was indicted for the sex crime in August.
Gaetz had been to the Bahamas on a trip accompanied by two other Florida Republicans — Jason Pirozzolo, a former Orlando-area aviation authority member, who has acted as a fundraiser for Governor Ron DeSantis and Halsey Beshears, a former state representative. Authorities are also investigating Gaetz's Bahamas trip and trying to find out if he violated the Mann Act, which forbids transporting people across state lines to engage in prostitution.
Interestingly, the alleged victim in the sex-trafficking case had already turned 18 almost nine months before the Bahamas trip, which might complicate the case as she had turned an adult technically. Gaetz has acknowledged that he is the subject of a federal investigation into whether he had improper involvement with her as a 17-year-old but if she turned adult the case will take a different turn now.
That said, Gaetz has vehemently denied the allegations against him and has said he will not resign from Congress. "Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex," said Gaetz's spokesman, Harlan Hill.
The third-term congressman has cast himself as a victim of persecution by a politicized Justice Department.
Earlier this month, Gaetz described himself as "a wanted man by the deep state" during a rally with Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) at The Villages retirement community in Florida. "They will not silence me, we will not back down, and the truth will prevail," Gaetz added.
Following the news of his ex-girlfriend agreeing to cooperate with investigators, Gaetz on Friday told Newsmax: "I'm not too worried about Joel Greenberg. Joel Greenberg is literally sitting in jail right now because he originally accused someone who was innocent of having had a relationship with a minor. That wasn't true, it was just a false thing that Joel Greenberg had said and that's landed him in quite a bit of trouble."