Florida congressman Matt Gaetz has had a bad week, and no matter what way you want to frame it the news keeps getting worse for the Republican lawmaker. A week that initially brought rumors that he wanted to leave office has unfurled a wild series of stories about his alleged misconduct, including allegations of a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and various ties to another Florida politician also in hot water.
Word on the street is that Fox News has no interest in hiring Gaetz after his time in politics ends, which seems assured to be very soon one way or the other. Whether that’s because he bizarrely tried to implicate Tucker Carlson live on air is unclear, but it’s another wrinkle of the story’s weirdness that keeps growing as time goes on.
As CNN reported Thursday, the allegations against Gaetz only begin with human trafficking, as a Justice Department investigation into his apparent relationship with a 17-year-old has become something much more more wide-ranging according to new reports. As the New York Times explained in greater detail on Thursday night, the 38-year-old Gaetz apparently used various mobile payment apps to send women money for sex, often taking drugs with them as well.
The Times has reviewed receipts from Cash App, a mobile payments app, and Apple Pay that show payments from Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Greenberg to one of the women, and a payment from Mr. Greenberg to a second woman. The women told their friends that the payments were for sex with the two men, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
In encounters during 2019 and 2020, Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Greenberg instructed the women to meet at certain times and places, often at hotels around Florida, and would tell them the amount of money they were willing to pay, according to the messages and interviews.
One person said that the men also paid in cash, sometimes withdrawn from a hotel ATM.
Some of the men and women took ecstasy, an illegal hallucinogenic drug, before having sex, including Mr. Gaetz, two people familiar with the encounters said.
What’s more, another CNN report details some other disturbing activities that had helped alienate Gaetz among his colleagues, who according to other reports tried to distance themselves from Gaetz by not taking photographs with him. One reason, perhaps, was detailed in the report that described Gaetz sharing photos of a nude woman with a hula hoop that the Republican congressman claimed he slept with.
Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.
“It was a point of pride,” one of the sources said of Gaetz.
As New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman clarified on Thursday, “on the floor” presumably means that these actions were taken while actually on the floor of Congress.
Presumably "while on the floor" means "of the House." https://t.co/eA9XueI8Tj
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 2, 2021
The nude photo incident doesn’t appear to be part of the Justice Department investigation, but does add context to what’s been an unraveling of the staunch Donald Trump supporter in the span of just a few days. While Gaetz has strongly denied any wrongdoing, the evidence leaked in reports continues to pile up faster than anyone could have expected at the start of the week.