Last week, the attorney for Florida representative Matt Gaetz’s “wingman” Joel Greenberg told reporters that the congressman should not feel “very comfortable” regarding the news that his client planned to plead guilty to some of the 30-plus charges he was facing. It was either prescient advice or a hint: Greenberg has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year, according to the New York Times.
The new report states that Greenberg, the former tax collector of Seminole County in Florida, told the Feds that he and Gaetz had given women cash in exchange for sex. That’s not great news for the congressman, considering that he has already acknowledged that the Department of Justice is investigating if he and Greenberg had paid for a 17-year-old to travel across state lines for sex, an alleged act which could violate sex-trafficking statutes. Greenberg reportedly began cooperating once he realized that the government had overwhelming evidence against him.
That probably wasn’t the most difficult task for the investigators on the case: First charged last June, Greenberg is facing 33 counts including stalking a political rival, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official, defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program, identity theft, and using a state database he was tasked with running to create fake IDs for women he was allegedly paying to have sex with. The probe into Gaetz’s alleged sex trafficking of a minor emerged from the investigations into Greenberg’s alleged litany of illegal behavior.
A spokesperson for Gaetz — who is also facing a House Ethics Committee inquiry — denied the allegations, claiming he “has never paid for sex” and that Greenberg was “trying to ensnare innocent people in his troubles.” However, the point of cooperation for Greenberg is to try and reduce the mandatory 12-year minimum sentence by providing evidence against alleged co-conspirators, not to ensnare people he cannot pin down with Venmo receipts.
Later on Tuesday night, Politico reported more details about a September 2018 vacation in the Bahamas on which investigators are focusing. On the trip was an 18-year-old that investigators are trying to speak with to determine if she and Gaetz had sex when she was still a legal minor; three of Gaetz’s friends told Politico that the two had sex after she turned 18. The report also states that Gaetz’s phone was seized by federal agents executing a search warrant late last year.
This post has been updated.