WASHINGTON — Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said he is under investigation for his sexual conduct after a report Tuesday that the Department of Justice is looking into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and he claimed the investigation is related to an effort to extort him.
The New York Times reported that, according to three sources briefed on the issue, an inquiry seeks to uncover whether Gaetz violated sex trafficking laws by paying for a teen girl to travel with him. Chargeshave not been filed against the Florida congressman.
The alleged encounter under investigation occurred about two years ago, the Times reported, and a DOJ investigation began near the end of the Trump administration.
Gaetz said in a statement that the allegation is part of an ongoing effort to extort him and his family and said “no part” of it is true.
“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name. … I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations,” he said.
Gaetz confirmed to Axios that he is under investigation for conduct with women.
“The allegations against me are as searing as they are false,” Gaetz told Axios. “I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know when I was a single guy.”
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.,, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Orlando. (Photo: John Raoux, AP)
According to Times sources, the investigation into Gaetz is part of a broader probe into Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector and an acquaintance of Gaetz. Greenberg is facing charges that include child sex trafficking and pleaded not guilty. Gaetz and Greenberg have been pictured together, and Gaetz expressed support for Greenberg as tax collector.
Gaetz told the New York Times that his lawyers were in touch with DOJ investigators.
“I only know that it has to do with women,” he told the paper. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”
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