Matt Gaetz Keeps Talking as More Chips Fall

Matt Gaetz was a lawyer before he ran for Congress. I have no idea why he believes he can talk his way to innocence in a pending criminal investigation involving alleged sex trafficking of a minor, but it seems he's intent on trying.

Here’s a summary of the events to date in the Gaetz investigation by Florida Politics.

When the New York Times first broke the story, Gaetz responded with a denial on Twitter claiming he and his father, former Florida state senator Don Gaetz, were victims of a $25 million extortion plot by a former DOJ official who wanted the money to free a former FBI agent taken hostage in Iran. (The FBI said months ago it thinks the hostage is dead). According to Gaetz, the former DOJ official offered to use his influence to help Gaetz in the pending sex trafficking investigation in exchange for the money. Gaetz claimed, and the FBI doesn’t dispute, that Don Gaetz wore a wire at its request to get the former DOJ official to admit the plot on tape. Apparently the former DOJ official didn’t bite. [More...]

Gaetz responded with an op-ed in the Washington Examiner (No link due to a huge obnoxious and instrusive autoplay video which seems to appear on all their articles. Really embarrassing in 2021. They need a website redesign big-time). Reminiscent of Nixon, he declared he is not a crook. He also said he’s not a monk, just a congressman. And he claimed: “ I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old."

It sounds like Matt Gaetz is going to keep talking –and may just talk himself into an Indictment, given the other forces that seem to be in play, including:

The pending Third Superseding Indictment against a fellow politico in Florida named Joel Greenberg for sex trafficking of minors and other crimes.

Greenberg’s lawyer announced yesterday his client would probably take a deal within the next few weeks and if he were Gaetz, he wouldn’t feel too comfortable right now. (Unusual comment, considering the lengths defense lawyers typically go to in order to give the impression their client is pleading guilty without cooperating. Cooperating is hardly a badge of honor in the criminal defense universe).

Then there are recent revelations that an Orlando hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur named Jason Pirozzolo is alleged to have funded a trip to the Bahamas that Gaetz and possibly other Florida politicians were associated with. Dr. Pirozzolo’s name is now scrubbed from the medical practice website. Here is the cached version from earlier yesterday.

According to CBS News, Dr. Pirozzolo, who is a Gaetz campaign donor, and Gaetz went to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019. CBS sources say Pirozzolo footed the bill for travel and hotel costs and for female escorts on the trip. The question is whether the women were illegally transported across state or international lines for sex with Gaetz. Investigators may also be looking at whether Gaetz gave out political access or legislative favors in exchange for being provided paid escorts.

Then there is the New York Times report that the 17 year old female who is the subject of one of the Greenberg counts in the Indictment is the same female to whom Gaetz allegedly provided a benefit to in exchange for sex.

The Justice Department inquiry is also examining whether Mr. Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received anything of material value, according to four people familiar with the investigation. The sex trafficking count against Mr. Greenberg involved the same girl, according to two people briefed on the investigation.

The authorities have also investigated whether other men connected to Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Greenberg had sex with the 17-year-old, two of the people said.

The New York Times article reports that the FBI has interviewed the women involved, and they said they had sex with both Greenberg and Gaetz, and not only that but:

In some cases, Mr. Gaetz asked women to help find others who might be interested in having sex with him and his friends, according to two people familiar with those conversations. Should anyone inquire about their relationships, one person said, Mr. Gaetz told the women to say that he had paid for hotel rooms and dinners as part of their dates.

My biggest question is why is Matt Gaetz still giving interviews and tweeting about this investigation? The only answer I can think of (other than getting really bad advice from whatever Republican crisis counselor he is using) is that he just doesn’t understand the federal sex trafficking laws. Someone should email him a copy of 18 U.S.C. §1591, Sex Trafficking of Children or by Force, Fraud or Coercion. Here is DOJ's "Cliff Notes" version.

It’s not going to matter whether he knew she was 17 or not.

© In a prosecution under subsection [18 USCS § 1591](a)(1) in which the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to observe the person so recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, maintained, patronized, or solicited, the Government need not prove that the defendant knew, or recklessly disregarded the fact, that the person had not attained the age of 18 years.

It's also not going to matter whether he paid her expenses or someone else did, she flew with him or he flew alone, whether he paid her for the sex in cash, or even if they actually engaged in sex.

I wonder if this particular 17 year old was registered on the website “Seeking Arrangement”, which bills itself as a place for “Sugar Babies” to meet “Sugar Daddies” and “Sugar Mommas”. According to the Times, it’s where Greenberg found some of the girls. Interestingly, Seeking Arrangement has quite a strong anti-trafficking page on their website.

As to potential penalties for sex trafficking offenses, here's a 2018 U.S. Sentencing Commission Primer on the topic.

Matt Gaetz of course is presumed innocent. But that doesn't change my impression he is his own worst enemy and needs to STFU. He thinks he's playing a public relations game and trying to keep his seat in Congress when his strategy should be to lawyer up and focus on avoiding having to spend the next 10 years in prison.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Gaetz May be the first of many (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Apr 09, 2021 at 07:14:52 AM EST
    right wing nut jobs to learn first hand that only Trump can do Trump and get away with it.

    He is clearly adopting the Trump method of crisis management.

    FOMG (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Apr 09, 2021 at 09:07:21 AM EST
    "Rep. Matt Getz (R-FL)  started fundraising off a still unfolding sex scandal that could put him in prison," Florida Politics reports.

    "Gaetz penned a fundraising appeal blasted to supporters Friday morning. It asked for checks to be sent to the campaign account Friends of Matt Gaetz. In it, Gaetz compares himself to members of former President Donald Trump's administration who became embroiled in an investigation of Russian election meddling."

    Agreed, (none / 0) (#4)
    by KeysDan on Fri Apr 09, 2021 at 10:36:04 AM EST
    this seems to be the MAGAt way--- as also seen by the January 6 violent insurrectionists.

    His Wingman (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by smott on Fri Apr 09, 2021 at 07:37:07 AM EST
    Is singing like a dime store canary.
    I think Gaetz is quite f***cked.

    Matt Gaetz isn't exactly ... (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Apr 09, 2021 at 06:56:26 PM EST
    ... the brightest bulb in America's political chandelier. The "Yuck!" factor has always been strong in him. But he's also one of those people who exude this pervasive aura of condescending stupidity, and that's a character trait which just really annoys the f*ck out of me.

    From my experience in politics, elected officials and candidates who possess that particular flaw also tend to lack a moral baseline and ethical compass, and further equate being loud and obnoxious with intellectual rigor.


    Very (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by FlJoe on Wed Apr 21, 2021 at 08:04:37 AM EST
    Gaetz also paid $5,000 in "strategic consulting" fees to notorious political operative Roger Stone
    It figures, if there is a Republican scandal, Roger Stone is nearby.

    I'm sure it's all on the up and up  

    A $5,000 "strategic political consulting" fee to Drake Ventures, the company belonging to longtime GOP smear artist and Gaetz associate Roger Stone. On Friday, the DOJ sued Stone and his wife, Nydia, alleging that the couple owes millions in unpaid taxes and have used Drake Ventures to shelter more than $1 million.

    I have questions in my mind whether (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Peter G on Thu Apr 22, 2021 at 08:14:02 AM EST
    this "political strategy consulting fee" was paid to Stone's company not by Gaetz but rather from his campaign committee's account, and if so, whether it is a lawful use of campaign funds or rather an improper (and thus potentially criminal) misuse of those funds for a personal purpose. The fact that Gaetz would be a stronger candidate for re-election if he were not under indictment or convicted of sex crimes does not turn his personal legal expenses into campaign expenses, after all.

    Whatcha (none / 0) (#25)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Apr 21, 2021 at 07:42:14 PM EST
    wanna bet Stone was a "participant" in the "adventures" of Greenberg and Gaetz? Gonna be interesting to see how wide a net ends up being cast and how many FL Republicans it ends up taking down.

    Frankly it should take down the entire party in my opinion.

    There is a reason why Trump moved from FL to NY. NY is not gonna tolerate this stuff anymore but Florida embraces it.


    Looks like Bozo might be moving to NJ for (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by desertswine on Fri Apr 23, 2021 at 03:54:52 PM EST
    the summer as the Winter Palace shuts down for the season.

    The twice-impeached one-term president and his team may relocate from his Mar-A-Lago resort to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, unnamed Trump advisers told Business Insider.

    "They're moving the whole operation to New Jersey because they're going to start doing more fundraising," said one Trump advisor familiar with the discussions.

    The Palm Beach resort, where Trump has lived since leaving the White House, closes just after Memorial Day due to the hot and humid weather in South Florida.

    - Raw Story


    I think (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Apr 23, 2021 at 07:54:43 PM EST
    he may find to his surprise that NJ is not as amenable to scammers as Florida is. Of course, now is the time to let the indictments out since he is in NJ and won't have DeathSantis running interference for him.

    assumes facts most definitely not in evidence: (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 13, 2021 at 12:04:55 AM EST
    that Gaetz was a competent lawyer, before he ran for public office. I've not seen/read/heard anything, that would substantively support such an assertion, to this point.

    I have to wonder (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 13, 2021 at 06:06:38 PM EST
    how he got into law school at William & Mary.

    Maybe this (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Apr 13, 2021 at 08:45:51 PM EST
    his parents, Don and Victoria Gaetz, are among the nation's top 1% of ultra-high net worth individuals.

    I think we have a winner here (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 14, 2021 at 10:26:16 AM EST
    You can dress em up (none / 0) (#17)
    by jondee on Thu Apr 15, 2021 at 06:10:18 PM EST
    but you can't take em out.

    With all the options available to someone from a family like, you'd think Matt would find better things to do with his life than licking Trump's....

    But then, some people are into degradation and humiliation.


    from a family like that.. (none / 0) (#18)
    by jondee on Thu Apr 15, 2021 at 06:57:06 PM EST
    Cooperation. Since last year. (none / 0) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Apr 13, 2021 at 06:28:04 PM EST

    "A former local official in Florida indicted in the Justice Department investigation that is also focused on Rep. Matt Gaetz has been providing investigators with information since last year about an array of topics," the New York Times reports.

    "Joel Greenberg, a onetime county tax collector, disclosed to investigators that he and Mr. Gaetz had encounters with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex."

    Key detail: "Mr. Greenberg began speaking with investigators once he realized that the government had overwhelming evidence against him and that his only path to leniency lay in cooperation."

    Overwhelming (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 13, 2021 at 07:56:04 PM EST
    evidence is probably the reason why Barr had to let this one continue instead of squashing it like he did the rest of them. That evidence pouring out before a presidential election by frustrated prosecutors would probably have been worse.

    Also (none / 0) (#11)
    by FlJoe on Wed Apr 14, 2021 at 07:12:22 AM EST
    Gaetz's predicament as the subject of a serious investigation became clearer this winter when federal agents executed a search warrant and seized his iPhone, according to interviews with three people who were told of the matter by Gaetz, who changed his phone number in late December.

    Ad buy (none / 0) (#13)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Apr 14, 2021 at 06:56:53 PM EST
    Rep. Matt Gaetz on Wednesday announced a six-figure ad buy for a spot that targets CNN, as he fights to save his political career amid sexual trafficking allegations.

    The new 30-second ad will be featured in the Florida Republican's congressional district and nationally on select cable networks, according to a statement from Gaetz's congressional campaign. The ad marks the beginning of Gaetz's counteroffensive, as he "fight[s] back against a multiweek fake news cycle against him," it said.

    Clearly a brilliant strategy (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 14, 2021 at 09:07:23 PM EST
    Bound to have a positive effect on the criminal investigators and prosecutors.

    Clinging to your words (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 15, 2021 at 01:24:51 PM EST
    Maybe (none / 0) (#15)
    by KeysDan on Wed Apr 14, 2021 at 09:30:57 PM EST
    Rod Blagojevich is advising him.   His p.r. campaign hit all the right notes.

    Now Gaetz's (none / 0) (#19)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Apr 17, 2021 at 06:49:30 AM EST
    crimes seem to be spilling over on DeathSantis. Couldn't happen to a better person I guess. This looks to engulf a ton of the FL GOP.  

    Call (none / 0) (#20)
    by FlJoe on Sat Apr 17, 2021 at 10:32:39 AM EST
    me when DeSantis or the greater GOP suffers from any significant damage from this.

    I serious doubt that DeSantis was involved in any of these tawdry crimes perpetuated by Gaetz and his ratpack.

    Guilt by association, fairly or unfairly, has long been a political liability to a greater or lesser degree, but it has all but disappeared for modern Republicans.

    I suppose the worst case scenario is if the Feds have Gaetz dead to rights on the underage charge or other very serious charge and it goes to trial during next year's election...even then Gaetz will have surely devolved from a prime political ally to a second string coffee boy.


    I know the (none / 0) (#21)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Apr 17, 2021 at 04:09:59 PM EST
    FL Republicans are fine with all this. They are fine with Gaetz apparently. I'm talking with the larger electorate. Also remember there's no Trump to hide things anymore.

    However the press seems to think DeSantis is some sort of golden boy. I just had to laugh this week when they were breathlessly reporting that Manafort gave data to a Russian agent. They sucked up what Barr told them and never read the Mueller report apparently.


    Republicans (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by FlJoe on Sat Apr 17, 2021 at 08:56:08 PM EST
    have found that shamelessness works as a super power, it confounds the press, incites the base and owns the Libs. That's all they have and they know it.

    tRump is gone (maybe) but tRumpism remains strong, hypocrisy, blatant lies, outright cheating still works, and it is still the beating heart of the modern GOP.


    Since Merrick Garland (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Apr 18, 2021 at 08:29:08 AM EST
    took over the DOJ I am finally seeing some members of the GOP being held accountable. So I am finally hopeful.

    Yeah, Trumpism is a disease that swallowed the whole GOP but it existed before Trump. I am going to leave it to the Lincoln Project to clean up the GOP. I am only concerned with making Trumpers lose in the general election.