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Congressman Matt Gaetz is being investigated by federal investigators to determine whether he was given trips to the Bahamas and women in exchange for political favors, according to CNN.
Department of Justice investigators are reportedly looking into Gaetz’s connections to associates in Florida, who may have provided the three-term Congressman with escorts, travel and campaign donations, according to the sources interviewed by CNN. Investigators are also pursuing allegations from witnesses and other evidence that Gaetz may have used cash and drugs with young women.
The Root has already reported on the wider federal investigation the DOJ is pursuing on Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, a former county tax collector in Florida who is facing charges of stalking, harassing a political opponent, wire fraud, creating fake IDs and sex trafficking charges. He has pleaded not guilty and has a court appearance Thursday.
Gaetz has not been charged in connection to any of the allegations made against him and he has denied any wrongdoing.
Here is more from CBS, which reported on the Bahamas trip:
Federal investigators are looking into a Bahamas trip Matt Gaetz allegedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 as part of an inquiry into whether the Florida representative violated sex trafficking laws, multiple sources told CBS News.
Gaetz was on that trip with a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon named Jason Pirozzolo, who allegedly paid for the travel expenses, accommodations, and female escorts, the sources said.
Investigators are trying to determine if the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with the congressman.
“Traveling across state lines is what creates a federal hook for a prosecution,” Arlo Devlin-Brown, a former prosecutor and partner at Covington & Burling, said in a report that aired on the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.” “It doesn’t matter that [Gaetz] personally paid them as long as he knows someone is doing that.”
The Justice Department declined to comment. Pirozollo did not respond to repeated attempts to contact him, and declined to comment on his relationship with Gaetz and whether he paid for escorts for him when asked by CBS News on Wednesday outside his office in Orlando.
The suspicion of quid pro quo came in July of 2018 when Pirozzolo said on a podcast that Gaetz was working to introduce federal legislation that would support medical research of marijuana.
“In fact, Congressman Matt Gaetz is in the process of working on legislation up in Washington, D.C., that will help facilitate research on the nationwide level. And we should see a lot of good benefit from them,” Pirozzolo said in the podcast. “We’ve got Congressmen that are actually dealing with this federal legislation right now.”
The congressman introduced the Medical Cannabis Research Act in April 2018 and again in January 2019, but the bill never came to a vote.
Here is more on Pirozzolo, per CBS:
Pirozzolo is the co-founder and chairman of the board of the Medical Marijuana Physicians Association (AMMPA), and Gaetz was a speaker at two of the organization’s conferences. The first took place in October 2017 when Gaetz was joined by Trump ally Roger Stone. According to the Central Florida Post, the conference was immediately followed by a fundraiser for Gaetz’s congressional campaign. The second was in May 2018 at the group’s “NFL and Medical Cannabis Conference” in Miami.
FEC records reviewed by CBS News show that Pirozzolo made two separate donations of $1,000 each to Gaetz’s campaign arm, “Friends of Matt Gaetz,” in March 2016 and May 2017.
Donald Trump finally broke his silence on Gaetz, saying that the congressman never asked him for a pardon and that he has denied the allegations against him.
It is important to note that Gaetz was never accused of directly asking Trump for a pardon, but instead reportedly asked senior aides at the White House for consideration.