Matt Gaetz’s Mess Is Getting Harder to Clean Up

Gaetz reportedly transferred money to his friend Joel Greenberg using the “love hotel” emoji.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questions witnesses during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

As the Justice Department investigation into Matt Gaetz reportedly continues, none of the details emerging are exactly helping the Florida congressman. 

Joel Greenberg, the former Florida tax collector and Gaetz associate who’s indicted on dozens of counts including sex trafficking, fraud, and bribery, reportedly paid a 17-year-old girl $300 on Venmo in June 2017 for “food,” according to Venmo records reviewed by the Daily Beast

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Gaetz, who was previously found to have made a series of payments totaling $900 to Greenberg—who the following morning sent that exact total to three different women, including one apparently named in Gaetz’s Venmo memo—also made another $300 payment to Greenberg in November 2018 using the “love hotel” emoji, the Daily Beast reported. And Greenberg reportedly made more than a dozen payments totaling nearly $5,000 to a young woman who Gaetz later dated, according to the Daily Beast. 

Gaetz has lost several Venmo contacts over the past week, including three women who were paid by Greenberg, according to the Daily Beast. Gaetz has forcefully denied having sex with a minor and paying for sex

Greenberg is reportedly cooperating with the feds and has met with investigators multiple times, the New York Times reported Wednesday, and Greenberg’s attorney said last week that Gaetz is “not feeling very comfortable.” 

Separately, two women who attended parties in Florida with Gaetz and Greenberg described details of the parties to CNN. One told CNN that Gaetz acted like a “frat type of party boy.”

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"No one ever wants to stop partying, stop drinking, once you've had a few glasses of champagne in you," one woman said of the parties. 

Notably, both women told CNN that they never saw anyone who appeared to be underage at the parties and that neither of them has spoken with federal investigators. 

“CNN's story implies at least one of their sources reached out to them because Congressman Gaetz is being unfairly treated, and that any characterization of sex trafficking ‘does not align’ with what happened,” a Gaetz spokesperson told VICE News in a statement. The spokesperson declined comment “on Mr. Greenberg’s financial transactions, which seem to be the balance of the Daily Beast reporting.” 

Gaetz has continued to insist he won’t resign as the investigation continues, and is now actually fundraising off of the media coverage of the allegations. 

On Wednesday, Gaetz released an ad claiming that CNN is targeting Gaetz because he’s a conservative. 

“Now we see what’s really behind all of this: Democratic Party and media-driven smears aimed at taking out a Congressman of the United States,” a spokesperson for the Friends of Matt Gaetz told Politico in a statement.