In September 2017, Matt Gaetz’s wingman got an “anonymous tip” that led him to immediately call the Florida congressman with some bad news: He and Gaetz had had sex with someone who was not, as they had thought, 19 years old. She was only 17—under the legal age of consent in Florida.
After warning Gaetz not to go near the minor, Joel Greenberg promptly called the minor to “confront” her, blaming the girl for her own apparent statutory rape, according to a confession letter written by Greenberg and obtained by the Daily Beast. He told her “how serious of a situation this was, how many people she put in danger.”
“She apologized and recognized that by lying about her age, she endangered many people,” Greenberg wrote. But the seriousness of the situation didn’t stop Greenberg from reaching back out once she was technically legal: As Greenberg wrote in the letter, “there was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday.”
Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, has been indicted on several counts, including sex trafficking, bribery, and fraud. This confession letter, reportedly written in the waning days of the Trump administration in a quixotic effort to obtain a pardon, won’t help Gaetz’s already-considerable problems. The federal investigation into Greenberg is reportedly taking a hard look at Greenberg and Gaetz’s relationship, as well as their association with women who were given quite a bit of money.
The 17-year-old was reportedly part of a group of “girls”—in the words of Greenberg—who received compensation in exchange for sex, the Daily Beast reported.
“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18,” Greenberg wrote, according to the confession letter. “I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”
Then, after the minor turned 18, Greenberg got back in touch, according to the Daily Beast. Five months after her birthday, Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 via Venmo. One of those transactions’ titles included a nickname for the girl, the Daily Beast reported. Six hours later, Greenberg sent the girl and two other women a total of $900.
Records obtained by the Daily Beast found that Greenberg paid dozens of young women over Venmo and the Cash App. In interviews with 12 of those women, the recipients told the Daily Beast that “they understood Greenberg was paying them at least in part for sex.”
Greenberg’s lawyer declined to comment to the Daily Beast. Gaetz’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex nor has he had sex with a 17-year-old as an adult. We are now one month after your outlet and others first reported such lies, and no one has gone on record to directly accuse him of either. Politico, however, has reported Mr. Greenberg threatening to make false accusations against others, which seems noteworthy for your story and in fact sounds like the entirety of your story,” Logan Circle Group, a public relations firm hired by Gaetz, told the Daily Beast. (That’s not what the Politico article says.)
“Congressman Gaetz has had no role in advocating for or against a pardon for Greenberg and doubts such a pardon was ever even considered.”
The Daily Beast also detailed a lengthy attempt by Greenberg and Roger Stone, a close Trump associate, to secure a pardon for Greenberg. Greenberg reportedly offered to pay Stone $250,000 in Bitcoin if the effort was successful. (It wasn’t.)
Stone told the Daily Beast that he’d never asked for or received money from Greenberg, adding, “I made no formal or informal effort in regard to a pardon for Mr. Greenberg.”