Anti-LGBTQ+ Rep. Matt Gaetz under second investigation for allegedly sex trafficking a minor

Rep. Matt Gaetz running away from the press conference as a woman asked if he's a pedophile
Photo: Screenshot/Twitter

Anti-LGBTQ+ Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for potential lobbying violations, illicit drug use, and connections to sex trafficking. The ethics probe may have motivated Gaetz to mount his successful late 2023 effort to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from his role as House Speaker, as he blamed McCarthy for helping facilitate the probe in the Republican-led House.

The ethics committee’s investigative team recently reached out to a woman whom Gaetz allegedly had sex with when she was a minor and also to Joel Greenberg, a former close friend of Gaetz. Greenberg pleaded guilty in May 2021 following a Department of Justice (DOJ) probe, saying he had sex with an underage girl and introduced her to other “adult men” who also had sex with her while she was underage.

Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and accused the ethics committee of “trying to weaponize their process,” noting that the DOJ concluded its investigation in February 2023 without bringing any charges against him. Despite this, Greenberg agreed to provide “substantial assistance” to prosecutors as part of their investigation, including “years of Venmo and Cash App transactions and thousands of photos and videos, as well as access to personal social media accounts,” ABC News reported.

The House Ethics Committee officially started its investigation into Gaetz in July 2023 and began approaching potential witnesses and collecting evidence in its probe, but the probe has escalated, ABC News wrote. Gaetz reportedly told a close friend that Gaetz launched a vote to kick McCarthy out as House Speaker last autumn for “individually… reviving the investigation,” The New Republic reported. Gaetz has denied the claim.

When the committee began its investigation, Gaetz said, “The Ethics Committee has never found me to be in violation of House rules, though they’ve been investigating me during my entire seven years in Congress… I was cleared by the Department of Justice and the FBI, who looked into my life for years. Now, I believe that the House Ethics Committee is trying to weaponize their process against me because every once in a while up here I’m a rabble-rouser and I don’t go along to get along.”

“I think all the days in Congress, there are probably in the seven years I’ve been in Congress, there have only been tens of days when I haven’t been under one form of ethics investigation or another,” he added. “I’ve never been found to have violated any ethical laws. I won’t be found to have violated them in this matter either.”

The allegations facing Gaetz

While Gaetz has referred to LGBTQ+ people as “degenerate” in the past, his own past may be rather sordid. The Secret Service received a tip that Gaetz was associated with a Florida county tax collector who was charged with making fake IDs to sex-traffic underage girls. The DOJ opened an investigation into Gaetz in 2020, and investigators found that Gaetz would show his colleagues videos of naked and topless women on his phone as he bragged about how he was able to go to the parties held by the county tax collector, according to some witnesses.

In an attempt to get a pardon in 2020, the county tax collector wrote a letter to the Trump administration in which he confessed to paying women and girls for sex and said that he and Gaetz sexually abused a 17-year-old girl together but said that they thought she was 19. Around the same time, the DOJ was also investigating whether Gaetz paid for her to travel with him for an alleged sexual relationship with her when she was 17.

Gaetz denied the accusations and said that he was the victim of an extortion plot by an unnamed DOJ official. In strange media interviews, Gaetz claimed his father was “wearing a wire” to help officials catch the person extorting him and he denied that there were photos of him with child prostitutes — no one accused him of that.

Gaetz’s close relationship with Greenberg put him under suspicion, as did the fact that Gaetz was the only member of Congress to vote against a bill that increased funding to fight human trafficking.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CO), who was House Minority Leader at the time, said that he would not remove Gaetz from his committee assignments. CNN reported that Gaetz showed pictures of naked women to his colleagues on the House floor and bragged about having sex with them in 2021.

But by 2022, the DOJ investigation into Gaetz had concluded, and prosecutors recommended not charging Gaetz in the sex trafficking investigation due to a lack of credibility of two key witnesses.

Gaetz has consistently gotten a score of “0” on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, showing his solid opposition to LGBTQ+ equality. But he has gone beyond voting against LGBTQ+ equal rights and has been an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ+ people.

He has referred to LGBTQ+ people as “degenerate” at least twice, saying that his school prayer bill will keep LGBTQ+ identities out of schools.  He has attacked the military for allowing transgender people to serve their country. He accused USAID, the federal agency that manages foreign aid and developmental assistance to other countries, of having a “perverse ideology” for supporting LGBTQ+ people in other countries. He also got the Air Force to shut down a drag event on a military base after he complained about it.

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