Rep. Matt Gaetz & DOJ trafficking inquiry
March 31, 2021 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz faces investigation over relationship with teen girl (USA Today, March 31, 2021) Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said he is under investigation for his sexual conduct after a report Tuesday that the Department of Justice is looking into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and he claimed the investigation is related to an effort to extort him. The New York Times reported that, according to three sources briefed on the issue, an inquiry seeks to uncover whether Gaetz violated sex trafficking laws by paying for a teen girl to travel with him. Charges have not been filed against the Florida congressman.

The DOJ investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration, under Attorney General William P. Barr, and concerns Gaetz's alleged activities two years ago. (NYT, March 30, 2021) Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences. It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people.

Matt Gaetz says he's under federal investigation for sexual misconduct (Axios, March 30, 2021) The big picture: Gaetz, 38, said the specifics of the allegations are "unclear," and he said he's been told "very little." But the New York Times reported late Tuesday afternoon that the Justice Department is investigating Gaetz "over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him."

"The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false," Gaetz told Axios. "They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away." We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals," he added. [Related: How Matt Gaetz Used Daddy’s Money to Become Trump’s Favorite Congressman, Mother Jones, Sept./Oct. 2019]

Earlier yesterday: Scoop: Matt Gaetz eyes early retirement to take job at Newsmax (Axios, March 30, 2021) Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has privately told confidants he's seriously considering not seeking re-election and possibly leaving Congress early for a job at Newsmax, three sources with direct knowledge of the talks tell Axios.

Earlier this week: We’ve Got to Talk About Matt Gaetz and His Son, Nestor, (Again) (The Root, March 23, 2021) [Seven years ago, lawyer Gaetz, 31 at the time, informally adopted his then-girlfriend's 12-year-old brother shortly after the child arrived from Cuba.]

Rep. Matt Gaetz (subject of a June 2019 House Ethics Committee investigation into possible witness-tampering for allegedly threatening Michael Cohen via now-deleted tweet that February, leader of the House SCIF invasion during the impeachment inquiry in October 2019 [money quote: “Behind those doors, they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election!"], well-known shouty McShoutpants, gas-mask enthusiast, Capitol Riot antifa conspiracist; tl:dr Rising Star Matt Gaetz Represents Everything That’s Wrong With Trump’s Republican Party, The Intercept, Feb. 2019) was a speaker at the August 2020 Republic National Convention (RNC) & last month's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
posted by Iris Gambol (174 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gaetz went on Tucker Carlson last night to, among other things, let people know that all those photos of him with child prostitutes don't really exist (Twitter link with video). Which is a thing no one was talking about until he said it.
posted by rednikki at 12:14 PM on March 31 [44 favorites]


Mr Matt Gaetz, GOP politician, odious braggart, and coat tail surfer of the worst sort now being investigated by the US Dept of Justice. That's quite a resume he's building. I do hope this finishes his political career off; he is literally one of the worst politicians in the US right now.
And, a portrait I drew a few years back, when he was quickly goining prominence for his unseemly antics.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:16 PM on March 31 [66 favorites]


@GrahamDavidA: The Florida Mann Act
posted by Going To Maine at 12:18 PM on March 31 [37 favorites]


Phlegmco9tm: Your depiction is perfect.
posted by bz at 12:19 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


Why would you reveal that your father is wearing a wire for the FBI when doing so would endanger the FBI's investigation (and possibly endanger your father depending on who/what is being investigated)?
posted by plastic_animals at 12:24 PM on March 31 [33 favorites]


Gaetz went on Tucker Carlson last night

Gaetz then appeared to make a sideways-accusation of Carlson having done something similar, who later seemed to want to distance himself from his guest as much as rhetorically possible, without calling Gaetz guilty on-air.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:24 PM on March 31 [34 favorites]


Maddow walks through bonkers scandal of Florida Republican that led to Matt Gaetz sex trafficking investigation [Raw Story]

"The day he was indicted for stalking a little rival, Joel Greenberg had several stolen I.Ds in his work vehicle, a pair of fake I.Ds in his wallet, and materials for making more in his office. Evidence he was regularly abusing his position to steal unwitting constituents' identities ...

Prosecutors said that he was stealing the old IDs and turning them into IDs to use for himself. He had many of them for several states. Why do you need a whole bunch of fake identities? And why was he also, according to prosecutors, trying to figure out how to falsify concealed firearms permits as well?"


Curious to see what emerges if the feds really start pulling on the strings connecting Gaetz and Joel Greenberg.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:25 PM on March 31 [25 favorites]


Saw someone post last night that their purchase of pizzagaetz.com has finally come to fruition.

I wonder if more ever came of his extremely strange boasting about having a basically adopted son who was a handsome young man from a few years ago.

Why would you reveal that your father is wearing a wire for the FBI when doing so would endanger the FBI's investigation (and possibly endanger your father depending on who/what is being investigated)?
posted by plastic_animals at 2:24 PM


Is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy, Matt?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:26 PM on March 31 [32 favorites]


Why would you reveal that your father is wearing a wire for the FBI when doing so would endanger the FBI's investigation (and possibly endanger your father depending on who/what is being investigated)?

Presumably because he's lying about the counter-investigation, but who knows, maybe the FBI is indeed investigating itself and Gaetz is as profoundly stupid as he is morally reprehensible.
posted by jedicus at 12:27 PM on March 31 [10 favorites]


Years and years ago, at an old job, I overheard one of my co-workers discussing the news with another colleague at a time when some GOP members were going through a particularly bone-headed set of mis-steps; he summed up the whole situation by saying "At this rate Republicans will soon be eating their young."

Every so often that sentence comes back to me. Now is such a time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 PM on March 31 [16 favorites]


So either he's lying about the wire thing, which is... weird but maybe not a criminal act...??? or he is not lying in which case he did just one of two things in order of what's least bad for him 1.) really botch a criminal investigation that I guess was in his favor? 2.) implicate his father and himself in B A D T I M E S.

I believe he deleted the tweet which I don't think is making it look great for him! so I choose to believe 2.)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:31 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Apologies, missed these links in the FPP: then-girlfriend

USA Today has an update crossed with a primer: What we know: Rep. Matt Gaetz is under federal investigation, accused of having sex with a minor
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:34 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Is this the long awaited Gaetzgate at last?
posted by phunniemee at 12:37 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


For the past few years, I would wonder what this guy's deal was. Then the moment would pass. I'm not really interested.

Now he's making me have to consider what his deal is, and fuck this guy for that.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:40 PM on March 31 [69 favorites]


My personal theory is that the investigation kicked off when he was the 1 in the 418-1 House vote on the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, because what the fuck
posted by theodolite at 12:42 PM on March 31 [114 favorites]


Why would you reveal that your father is wearing a wire for the FBI when doing so would endanger the FBI's investigation (and possibly endanger your father depending on who/what is being investigated)?

Probably because it's an unverifiable lie, similar to "I can't release my taxes. They're being audited."
posted by dobbs at 12:43 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


> rednikki: "Which is a thing no one was talking about until he said it."
@shutupmikeginn: My "Not involved in human trafficking" T-shirt has people asking a lot of questions already answered by my shirt.
Although, in this case, people were actually already talking about the human trafficking, just not the photos he brought up out of nowhere.
posted by mhum at 12:43 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]


As mentioned in part of the 2,159 word "Controversies" section of his Wikipedia entry, he also invited a Holocaust denier to the State of the Union.

Oh, and he won reelection in 2020 by 30 percentage points.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:47 PM on March 31 [9 favorites]






May his career last long

enough to drag down as many GOP scumbags with him as possible.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:06 PM on March 31 [15 favorites]


singsong

HA ha ha HAha
Fuck tha-at asshole

/singsong
posted by medusa at 1:21 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


Also, props to the NYT photo editor for choosing this photo to illustrate their story
posted by theodolite at 1:21 PM on March 31 [16 favorites]


As usual the GQP projects outward. What they accuse others of doing, is what they themselves were doing in secret.
posted by stevis23 at 1:24 PM on March 31 [13 favorites]


Right now, Gaetz is saying things like All my girlfriends have been of consenting age, and Of course, I usually picked up the check -- I'm a gentleman." If it becomes necessary, I think he'll claim that the 17-year-old girl was his son's flame, as Nestor (often described as Gaetz's "helper" in that time period) was that age two years ago (and living with his biological father for junior year of high school).

As in: With her parents' permission, the besotted young couple traveled out-of-state with Rep. Gaetz; the congressman really missed having his son around the house... of course Rep. Gaetz footed the bill; this was a family vacation, and he's Nestor's dad. Honestly, you people, with your sick, defamatory fantasies and witch hunts!
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:34 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I can't explain how but I think everything about Matt Gaetz can be explained by the fact that he literally grew up in Truman's house from the Truman Show.
posted by theodolite at 1:36 PM on March 31 [15 favorites]


As usual the GQP projects outward. What they accuse others of doing, is what they themselves were doing in secret.
yup. It's amazing how accurate that is. Republicans accuse someone of something? You can be sure they do it themselves. Pedophilia, abortion, reckless spending, adultery, corruption, you name it, they did it.
On a more serious note, the reason they accuse others of doing it is that they need their voters to think "they all do it, so we elect our own crook".
posted by mumimor at 1:45 PM on March 31 [45 favorites]


theodolite - I was just going to point out for anyone who's interested in some FPP synergy that Gaetz's hometown of Seaside, the planned community seen in The Truman Show, was +30 Trump in 2020. And that's not even nearly the Trumpiest precinct in Florida's 1st Congressional District.
posted by theory at 1:45 PM on March 31 [7 favorites]


Here's how I imagine the conversation between Tucker Carlson and his wife after the interview:

Susan: So, I saw the interview with Matt Gaetz.
Tucker: Ha-ha, that was crazy, right?
Susan: Mmm.
Tucker: What?
Susan: Well, he claimed he and a lady friend had dinner with us.
Tucker: Yeah, but like I said, I don't remember her at all. Do you remember her? Because I don't remember her at all!
Susan: No, I don't.
Tucker: So weird, right?
Susan: You know what else is weird?
Tucker: [ulp]
Susan: ...I don't remember us having dinner with him, ever. And yet you didn't deny you and I had dinner with him. So my question for you, Tucker—my question for you—is who was your date the night you had dinner with Gaetz and his underage girlfriend?
posted by The Tensor at 2:00 PM on March 31 [85 favorites]


Philip Bump in The Washington Post: “The Matt Gaetz allegation, explained”
There aren’t many members of Congress whose personal lives are the subject of broad speculation. But for a variety of reasons, Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) has been for some time.
One is that he’s a young and handsome bachelor, part of a handful of House members whose constant appearances on conservative cable television have earned him national attention. Another is that Gaetz has both intentionally and unintentionally stoked that interest, first with rumored love interests, then an announced engagement and most unusually, the revelation last year that he has a teenage son (who is his son neither biologically nor legally).
posted by Going To Maine at 2:07 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Surely the Q cult is all over this. Surely.
posted by tommasz at 2:12 PM on March 31 [24 favorites]


The thing is, even if the bonkers claim about wearing wires and extortion are true, that has zero bearing on the underlying investigation. It can be true both that Gaetz was being blackmailed/extorted AND that he engaged in sex trafficking with minors.
posted by star gentle uterus at 2:13 PM on March 31 [21 favorites]


handsome bachelor

I'm not the first person to point this out, but Gaetz, more than anything else, looks like a live rendering of Butthead from "Beavis & Butthead". Whoever put this "handsome" concept on the table needs to get their fucking eyes examined.
posted by Ipsifendus at 2:15 PM on March 31 [121 favorites]




Surely the Q cult is all over this. Surely.

It is the 17th letter of the alphabet.
posted by octothorpe at 2:20 PM on March 31 [9 favorites]


It can be true both that Gaetz was being blackmailed/extorted AND that he engaged in sex trafficking with minors.

Yeah, what occurred to me is that someone DOJ-adjacent got wind of the investigation and decided they could make some fast cash.
posted by suelac at 2:23 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Somewhere, Roy Moore screamed out "SEE? SEE? IT'S PERFECTLY NATURAL!" before a large man shoved him back down into a 55-gallon drum.
posted by delfin at 2:24 PM on March 31 [24 favorites]


Matt Gaetz looks like both drama masks combined.

I was going to say this guy* somewhat more grown up

* the older brother from Leave It To Beaver which was already old when I was young.
posted by philip-random at 2:28 PM on March 31


Mod note: Couple comments removed. There's such a rich vein of stuff to criticize Gaetz about; let's not go dig in on people's looks just because they're shitty people.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on March 31 [28 favorites]


Okay, but can we still talk about his garishly-patterned, oddly-shiny, ugly-ass suits?
posted by box at 2:48 PM on March 31 [30 favorites]


As usual the GQP projects outward. What they accuse others of doing, is what they themselves were doing in secret.

It's not just the right, but the far right really seems to specialize in this. Between the anti-gay homophobes who turn out to like some same sex action, to predators who abuse children, these stories just keep coming.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:48 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


My personal theory is that the investigation kicked off when he was the 1 in the 418-1 House vote on the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, because what the fuck

My personal theory is that the investigation was begun by Bill Barr when Trump wanted leverage over a congressman.
posted by srboisvert at 3:02 PM on March 31 [34 favorites]


~My personal theory is that the investigation kicked off when he was the 1 in the 418-1 House vote on the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, because what the fuck
~My personal theory is that the investigation was begun by Bill Barr when Trump wanted leverage over a congressman.


Any chance Ghislaine Maxwell might have dropped a dime on Matt?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:06 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Okay, but can still talk about his garishly-patterned, oddly-shiny, ugly-ass suits?

box, this is exactly why my brain has him tagged as "Evil Guy Smiley"
posted by Vervain at 3:09 PM on March 31 [8 favorites]


The wire could easily have been both real and utterly un-illuminating, which would be why Matt wants it released. Dad just has to get on the line and confuse the suspect with a lot of blackmail talk, the poor fool on the other end sounds confused and evasive, and Dad leaves things in the air. Aha! Wha...?
posted by Cris E at 3:19 PM on March 31


The suits are dour compared to the shoes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:24 PM on March 31


He does kinda dress like a Bosstone.
posted by sideshow at 3:28 PM on March 31 [11 favorites]


He does kinda dress like a Bosstone.

He’s far from mighty, mighty, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:36 PM on March 31 [9 favorites]


He does kinda dress like a Bosstone.

How dare
posted by Going To Maine at 3:40 PM on March 31 [20 favorites]


“I’m not seeking a pardon. I’ve not done anything improper or wrong,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night.

oh, good.

i was so worried about President Joe Biden taking the bait on this one.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:42 PM on March 31 [32 favorites]


Well Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Qland) has come out in support of him, so that’s always a sign of innocence. If there is someone who knows a thing or two about infidelity it’s MTG!
posted by misterpatrick at 3:49 PM on March 31 [16 favorites]


Any chance Ghislaine Maxwell might have dropped a dime on Matt?

More like Joel Greenberg.

I think Gaetz has misinterpreted Florida's Romeo and Juliet laws and may have confessed to a state crime along with the federal crime in that Fox interview. "She was 17" is not a defense in Florida unless the partner was younger than 23.

Also, F in chat for Matt Gertz from MMFA. He's basically been a bot that repeats "wrong person" for the past 2 days.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:50 PM on March 31 [8 favorites]


It can be true both that Gaetz was being blackmailed/extorted AND that he engaged in sex trafficking with minors.

As has been pointed out by several folks on the Twitter machine, the best target for an extortion scheme is someone who has something to hide.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:27 PM on March 31 [23 favorites]


I don't think I've ever been less surprised by an allegation against anyone
posted by dis_integration at 4:28 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]


I don't think I’ve ever been less surprised by an allegation against anyone

Have you met our last President, though?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:52 PM on March 31 [15 favorites]


Surely the Q cult is all over this. Surely.

The only response I've seen so far from Republican supporters is, like, "Why are you Democrats so obsessed with calling people pedophiles?" For real.
posted by LindsayIrene at 4:56 PM on March 31 [16 favorites]


I don’t know that Gaetz has done anything illegal per se, but he sure comes across as the kind of guy who has memorized the ages of consent in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:18 PM on March 31 [59 favorites]


The kind of guy who's used the phrase, "It's not pedophilia, it's ephebophilia."
posted by dirigibleman at 5:32 PM on March 31 [72 favorites]


I don't know either, but it sure sounds likely from the story so far.

But yeah, legality with respect to age of consent of one's sex partners really shouldn't be even coming up as an issue for anyone over, oh, 25 or so.
posted by eviemath at 5:53 PM on March 31 [15 favorites]


I feel I should continue my practice of noting every time Matt Gaetz comes up that it's already well-established that he's the sort of person who received 16 speeding tickets in a 15 year period, was arrested for drunk driving, and refused a breathalyzer test which under Florida law incurs an automatic 1-year license suspension, but he was able to use his political connections to get the charges dropped and his license reinstated. He is a corrupt good-old-boy who has spent his whole life believing he's above the law, and the corrupt Florida Republicans he's leaned on have been happy to reinforce that belief.

Obviously I don't know if he's guilty of what the FBI's investigating him for. But his actions and public statements in response to this story are exactly what I'd expect from someone simultaneously confident that the system will protect him once again, and terrified that he'll finally face consequences for what he knows he's done.
posted by biogeo at 6:35 PM on March 31 [58 favorites]




The kind of guy who's used the phrase, "It's not pedophilia, it's ephebophilia."

He's literally the kind of guy who uses the phrase "17-year-old woman".
posted by trig at 7:29 PM on March 31 [42 favorites]


He does kinda dress like a Bosstone.

A Whitey, righty Bosstone
posted by rogerroger at 11:01 PM on March 31 [40 favorites]


damn it, now we have to do the whole song
posted by ryanrs at 11:04 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


60+ posts in and nobody else mentions that Gates looks (and acts, apparently) like Quagmire from Family Guy?

I gotta be honest, it’s all I can see whenever he’s on TV.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:19 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


He does kinda dress like a Bosstone.

A Whitey, righty Bosstone


Yeah, that’s the impression that I get.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:05 AM on April 1 [51 favorites]


I think he looks like fictional rocker Buster Poindexter
posted by chavenet at 2:46 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I have never really thought about Matt Gaetz before, other than that he is a typical Floridian Republican. But now with him being in the news every day, I really wonder why people vote for someone like Gaetz? Sunday's Doonesbury might give a clue, but I still don't get it. Why do they select the creepiest guys?
posted by mumimor at 3:07 AM on April 1 [11 favorites]


yup. It's amazing how accurate that is. Republicans accuse someone of something? You can be sure they do it themselves. Pedophilia, abortion, reckless spending, adultery, corruption, you name it, they did it.
On a more serious note, the reason they accuse others of doing it is that they need their voters to think "they all do it, so we elect our own crook".


Remember William Bennett? The guy who wrote multiple books on moral virtues and who'd moan about the immoral lib'ruls basically every time he appeared on television? The kind of guy who, had it been revealed that post-presidency Bill Clinton was a degenerate gambler, would have excoriated him on every talk show to which he had been invited? Turns out Bill Bennett himself was a degenerate gambler, pissing away millions of dollars but justifying it by saying his family was still "solvent."

(Not that I care that an adult gambles, just that it seemed odd that a guy who constantly bleated about morals would turn out to have a very big vice himself.)
posted by drstrangelove at 3:38 AM on April 1 [7 favorites]


But now with him being in the news every day, I really wonder why people vote for someone like Gaetz?

Amanda Marcotte shares her take on Gaetz's appearance on Carlson's show: Fox News made Matt Gaetz a GOP star. Now he's trying to take Fox News' Tucker Carlson down with him.

Money quotes:
"Turns out making morality-deficient attention junkies the face of your party may have some drawbacks."

"Whatever the truth of the matter is, however, it is the least surprising thing in the world that Gaetz, whose main personality trait is "chaos troll", would be caught up in something like this. Recklessness has been central to his brand from the get-go. His love of stunts and getting into trouble is why Fox News turned him into a star. Fox producers know that their audience is a sea of frustrated Twitter trolls who only wish they had Gaetz's impeccable talent at being the worst. The Tampa Bay Times, his local newspaper, called Gaetz an "entitled ne'er-do-well." It's made him a villain to liberals, but a hero to the Fox News audience, oriented as they are around the singular goal of "owning" the liberals."
Which ties into a point Marcotte (among others) has been making for years - the right wing media, like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and Alex Jones, knows what makes "good" entertainment and high ratings and been amplifying it. Namely, cultural grievances (sometimes with a wafer-thin veneer of economic concerns), racism, and simplistic tales of good vs. evil. Which has created a spiraling feedback loop wherein people who are good at trolling (but maybe not so much with having actual coherent political positions and ideas) get more attention and airtime on right wing media, which just reinforces the idea that these are the real conservatives, which primes the hard-core Republicans who vote in the primaries to look for politicians that share these same qualities, which gets these people elected, and these politician trolls get even more air time, which the end result is there's an entire political party and huge numbers of voters whose entire political engagement is "how good do they own the libs?" Thus Gaetz and Greene and Cawthorn and Sarah Palin and Louie Gohmert and Senators Ron Johnson and John Kennedy and etc etc etc.

She wrote a whole book on this - Troll Nation - and here's an interview with Marcotte about the book, if you want an idea of where she's coming from.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:53 AM on April 1 [26 favorites]


Or, short version, Gaetz gets elected because he's what Fox News viewers want, and they want him because Fox News knows that the route to high ratings is reinforcing prejudices, so scuzzbuckets like Gaetz get lots of attention from Fox News.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:12 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I became aware of this after the first Maddow segment, and her delivery is classic Maddow if you haven't seen it. Wow, just wow. I remember the interchange on his adopted son but TIL that kid is 19 and not really adopted?

and I know we're not supposed to be talking about the hair, the shoes, the suits of Matt Gaetz - and I'm not - but what is it with the greased back trump-child hair of these creeps?
posted by bluesky43 at 5:50 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


yup. It's amazing how accurate that is. Republicans accuse someone of something? You can be sure they do it themselves. Pedophilia, abortion, reckless spending, adultery, corruption, you name it, they did it.

This is why I think there was wide-spread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Trump and Republicans were so adamant that it existed, they had to be projecting -- which is one of the reasons they were so adamant. "We committed massive voter fraud and still lost," they thought. "The only way that's possible is if Democrats committed even massiver voter fraud!"
posted by dobbs at 5:53 AM on April 1 [29 favorites]


Plot Twist from the Daily Beast: Documents Detail Alleged ‘Hostage Release’ Scheme to Extort Gaetz

"The scandal swirling around Rep. Matt Gaetz took a stunning turn Wednesday with the news that a former Air Force intelligence official and a Florida lawyer tried to get the congressman’s dad to cough up $25 million that would be used to free American Bob Levinson from Iranian custody—and somehow release Gaetz from a federal sex-crimes investigation.

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s one more strange fact: Levinson was declared dead last year."

It's all very confusing, but this looks a hell of a lot like a con job to me - a couple of grifters trying to scam Gaetz senior out of millions for a phony "hostage rescue."
posted by soundguy99 at 6:43 AM on April 1 [6 favorites]


Four Pinocchios on flight record claims.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:44 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]


This is why I think there was wide-spread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Trump and Republicans were so adamant that it existed, they had to be projecting -- which is one of the reasons they were so adamant. "We committed massive voter fraud and still lost," they thought. "The only way that's possible is if Democrats committed even massiver voter fraud!"

It's not exactly that. Republicans engaged in massive, widespread vote suppression efforts, and still lost. It's also dirty tricks, but a different sort of dirty tricks. The accusations of voter fraud are partly projection ('How could our dirty tricks have failed? Maybe the other side was doing the counter type of dirty tricks.'), but mostly they're an important component of the original vote suppression tactics, with the accusations giving cover to the vote suppression tactics. 'Course, their base still thinks that Black and Brown voters are only 3/5 human or American, so in their mental estimates will happily discount votes from Black and Brown voters and find the fraud claims emotionally believable despite repeated investigations showing absolutely no evidence.
posted by eviemath at 7:24 AM on April 1 [22 favorites]


Why do they select the creepiest guys?

It's a flex.

Being a creep and getting away with it is a Republican power move that says "I can do the crimes you want me to and I can help you do the crimes you want to".
posted by srboisvert at 8:05 AM on April 1 [22 favorites]


Also if you're a creep you may find ways to outmaneuver any somewhat-less-creepy GOP competitors on your way to your desired role, since you're not bound by social norms/shame/desire for consistency. I'm guessing many Rs hate Gaetz too, for personal reasons if not party reasons.
posted by rogerroger at 8:37 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]




Roy Moore screamed out "SEE? SEE? IT'S PERFECTLY NATURAL!" before a large man shoved him back down into a 55-gallon drum

^before "constitutional attorneys" associates eidsmoe, clark and butts dragged him back into the office to keep working on amicus briefs.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:31 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


From the article LindsayIrene posted:

For some reason, QAnon people are refusing to take their dream scenario coming true — a sitting congressman being investigated for child trafficking — at face value.

I read this sentence as "For SOME REASON..."

On one level it must be comforting to be able to rationalize literally anything by folding it into your all-encompassing conspiracy, but on the other it must be a drag to be constantly bombarded with "evidence" of your enemies' malfeasance and of course the Christmas Day you're waiting for never arrives.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:32 AM on April 1 [9 favorites]


The inquiry is several months old, and AG Barr began side-stepping Gaetz last summer: Barr and the Office of the Attorney General received multiple briefings on the Gaetz probe, beginning in the summer of 2020, a second person familiar with the probe said. They encouraged Florida prosecutors to move as quickly as they needed to and take whatever steps were appropriate. The briefings were consistent with Barr's memo requiring notification to department leadership on probes of candidates. The briefing was important because — among other reasons — Barr didn't want to accidentally appear anywhere with Gaetz, the person said.

At one point, Barr was scheduled for a meet-and-greet with Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. But DOJ canceled his appearance at the event when they saw that Gaetz, a member of that committee, had RSVP'd for it.
- Politico
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:52 AM on April 1 [17 favorites]


I know we're not supposed to be talking about the hair, the shoes, the suits of Matt Gaetz - and I'm not - but what is it with the greased back trump-child hair of these creeps?

*lightbulb flickers over head*

Wait. That slicked-back hairstyle was a thing in the 1920s....are these dudes maybe trying to emulate The Great Gatsby?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]


Admiration of Gordon Gecko would be my guess.
posted by cmfletcher at 10:39 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]


That, or Oswald Mosley.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:42 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]


I know we're not supposed to be talking about the hair, the shoes, the suits of Matt Gaetz - and I'm not - but what is it with the greased back trump-child hair of these creeps?

Leroy Jenkins. Ties em to the line of God’s Chosen. Still a powerful metaphor in some circles.
posted by Silvery Fish at 11:08 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I think Gaetz developed a personal sense of style somewhere in the PUA era (or, if you'd prefer, somewhere in between graduating college in 2003 and law school in 2007), and has never seen a reason to update it (see also Jim Jordan's jacket, as long as I'm being snide about Republican lawmakers' fashion sense).
posted by box at 11:13 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]


I know we're not supposed to be talking about the hair, the shoes, the suits of Matt Gaetz - and I'm not - but what is it with the greased back trump-child hair of these creeps?Leroy Jenkins.

Ties em to the line of God’s Chosen. Still a powerful metaphor in some circles.


I beg to differ, except for the god part. Leroy Jenkins.
posted by bluesky43 at 11:34 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


There's such a rich vein of stuff to criticize Gaetz about; let's not go dig in on people's looks just because they're shitty people.

I get this but in this particular case it really does seem like his *expression* that's causing him to look like a horrid prick, rather than his actual *features.* Like Trump Jr. - under full anesthesia I doubt anyone would find anything to comment on in his appearance.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:51 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]


There's such a rich vein of stuff to criticize Gaetz about; let's not go dig in on people's looks just because they're shitty people.

Many if not most people do not have the means to curate their appearance to what they would ideally like to project, and thus it is not fair to judge anyone for it. But Gaetz is not in that category, he has the money and means to make deliberate choices. And furthermore, a politician's job is based on a theatrical performance, therefore it is I believe fair to comment on what visual signifiers someone is purposely sending to their constituents, especially as it aligns with their values. And I am speaking here of purposeful choice of appearance, not what is unchangeable.
posted by nanook at 12:01 PM on April 1 [13 favorites]


God DAMN it, Leroy.
posted by biogeo at 12:17 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]


Gaetz's aesthetic always reminds me of Richard Spencer: a cleaned-up repackaging of white supremacy that is less scary to Republican voters. Who invites a Holocaust denier to a national event, without trying to speak to his constituents, however quietly? His looks are a deliberate part of the GOP package.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:20 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]


Given the timing, one would sort of naturally assume this advert for interns for Gaetz's D.C. and Florida District offices was a sardonic April Fools day joke, but apparently it's totally for real. Best line in the ad: "In the District office, interns may be asked to do a variety of things."
posted by taz at 12:48 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why so many of you think this man's appearance is more interesting than the story of how he sexually trafficked a minor but okay.
posted by all about eevee at 12:53 PM on April 1 [23 favorites]


Wait, Gaetz was on Tucker talking about how he was on a double date with his wife that Tucker doesn’t remember, and Tucker was on that radio show a long time ago talking about how he does not necessarily frown upon the kind of behavior that Gaetz is accused of, and the Qanon crew is apparently all out of yarn and pushpins.
posted by Selena777 at 1:08 PM on April 1 [11 favorites]


I don't understand why so many of you think this man's appearance is more interesting than the story of how he sexually trafficked a minor but okay.

I can see why you say this, given the latter half of this thread, but if it’s any help , I do not think this man’s appearance is more important than his actions.

I have wanted this man-child out of politics for a long time, and if the accusations that have surfaced are true, I want to see the power and lies he has built up around himself shatter and burn with no hope of rebuilding, quickly. Right now, I have to wait while the FBI completes its work, hopefully unimpeded.

I AM interested in the lingering threads of Puritanism that still insinuate and defile our country’s culture; from the now-subterranean belief that God has chosen a few people, "the elect," and the rest of humanity is damned (and ergo dangerous); to the constant state of spiritual anxiety, that I believe feeds directed hatred and violence; to the abomination that is Prosperity Theology. And with that, how those trapped in the thralls of that subterranean mindset “telegraph” their Electness; the affectations and appearance that ties them to a theological - theocratic - culture in plain sight. I don’t know that my inquiries make me or us any safer. But - he and his ilk do not choose their appearance for attractiveness. They do it for power.
posted by Silvery Fish at 1:45 PM on April 1 [22 favorites]


I can see why you say this, given the latter half of this thread, but if it’s any help , I do not think this man’s appearance is more important than his actions.

Neither do I, for the record.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:23 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite cases in law school was US v. Chancey, a 1983 case out of the 11th circuit involving a Florida defendant, which I never thought would be exactly on point for anything ever, but HELLO CONGRESSMAN MATT GAETZ: "With this kind of record, the jury must have sized him up as a highly unsavory character who stood badly in need of attending to, for it was undisputed that he had transported a seventeen year old girl on a transcontinental copulation spree."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:19 PM on April 1 [10 favorites]


Matt Gaetz is alleged to have shared a nude photo of a woman he claimed to have slept with on the house floor. Plus, whoever he shared them with dislikes him enough to snitch him out.
posted by rdr at 4:32 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


I love that CNN is using the "gas mask Gaetz" photo in their story about the sharing of nude photos. It both conveniently addresses the concerns some in this thread have on his looks.....and also accurately conveys he is toxic. A win win.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:47 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


a woman he claimed to have slept with on the house floor.

Nothing like a little attachment ambiguity to spice things up.

(Headline, possibly modified, now reads "Matt Gaetz shared nude photo on House floor of woman he said he had slept with, report says")
posted by Not A Thing at 4:48 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]


Poor Matt Gertz at Media Matters is one step closer to changing his name.
posted by cmfletcher at 5:01 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]






And that reporting makes the Greenberg connection explicit: "A Justice Department investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, according to people close to the investigation and text messages and payment receipts reviewed by The New York Times," the newspaper reported. "Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes, initially met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel and allowances, according to three people with knowledge of the encounters. Mr. Greenberg introduced the women to Mr. Gaetz, who also had sex with them, the people said."
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:26 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]


The claim that he was taking ecstasy as part of the overall debauchery is so minor compared to the major accusations that it barely shows up in the article. (And seriously, if you are a politician with higher asperations, why would you pay for sex in a way that creates receipts? What a dumbass.)
posted by Dip Flash at 7:45 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


well, he is a Republican
posted by philip-random at 8:27 PM on April 1 [10 favorites]


To repeat myself, "exactly what I'd expect from someone [...] confident that the system will protect him". The good-old-boy culture of impunity in power needs to end, and Matt Gaetz is a great place to start.
posted by biogeo at 10:33 PM on April 1 [12 favorites]


I can't find it now, but 2 years ago someone posted on Twitter that his Venmo was bursting full of payments to young-looking women.
posted by chaz at 12:46 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]


Jerry Springer's political career was destroyed by his paying for sex with checks when he was on Cincinnati's city council.
posted by octothorpe at 4:58 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I am wondering with these guys paying for sex, is it that they are just totally stupid, or ignorant, or so incredibly privileged and entitled? Blows my mind, so easy to just use cash. WTF.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:06 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Jerry Springer's political career was destroyed by his paying for sex with checks when he was on Cincinnati's city council.

The really surprising part of that is that there were sex workers willing to take a check from a client.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:01 AM on April 2 [7 favorites]


while i am inclined to believe he may have paid or exchanged gifts for sex i am also quite certain no sexual partner has ever received a thing of value from him.

may he pay now.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:55 AM on April 2


The really surprising part of that is that there were sex workers willing to take a check from a client.

Well, he wasn't just some random client, he was on the city council!
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:15 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]


The really surprising part of that is that there were sex workers willing to take a check from a client.

If I was a politician I'd make sure damn sure my sex cheques didn't bounce.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]


These Text Messages Pointed the Feds to Matt Gaetz: "In late January 2020, U.S. Secret Service agents received information that Rep. Matt Gaetz had accompanied a Florida county tax official they were already investigating on an unusual nighttime visit to a government office—where the local official was allegedly making fake IDs, a source close to the investigation told The Daily Beast."
posted by BungaDunga at 7:50 AM on April 2 [10 favorites]


It’s been pointed out that Gaetz has not been mentioned on Fox News for the past 48 hours. I mean, I guess they don’t want to interrupt their Cuomo coverage.
posted by misterpatrick at 8:22 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


The perception of impunity makes you stupid.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 8:55 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]




@MehdiHasanShow: “[Gaetz] has the right to remain silent,” Mariotti tells @mehdirhasan, “but apparently not the ability to remain silent.”

@AdamWeinstein: From NBC News: Luke Ball, the communications director for Rep. Matt Gaetz, has resigned, according to a person familiar with the situation
posted by tonycpsu at 10:00 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]


From ABC: “Feds looking at alleged payments Rep. Matt Gaetz made to women and online solicitation: Sources”
Sources said Gaetz was part of a group of young male lawmakers who created a “game” to score their female sexual conquests, which granted “points” for various targets such as interns, staffers or other female colleagues in the state House. One of the targets of the scoring system was a group the lawmakers had heard were “virgins,” according to a source. The scoring system by male Florida lawmakers was previously reported by the Miami Herald.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:06 AM on April 2 [7 favorites]


That ABC article has some amazing (read: awful) details:

Prior to joining Congress, Gaetz was a member of the Florida House of Representatives when his father was also a member of the Florida Senate. Sources told ABC News the two were often referred to as "Daddy Gaetz and Baby Gaetz." Sources said some women referred to him as "Creepy Gaetz" because they allegedly found themselves made uncomfortable by the junior lawmaker.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:27 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Sources said some women referred to him as "Creepy Gaetz" because they allegedly found themselves made uncomfortable by the junior lawmaker.

Passive voice strikes again. How about: "Sources said some women referred to him as "Creepy Gaetz" because the junior lawmaker allegedly made them feel uncomfortable"?
posted by Gelatin at 10:44 AM on April 2 [26 favorites]


Sources said Gaetz was part of a group of young male lawmakers who created a “game” to score their female sexual conquests

Young? Really ABC? 38 might be younger than average for a congress member, but enough with the "boys will be boys"-adjacent bullshit.
posted by bcd at 11:13 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]


The referenced game was played in the Florida statehouse, and when he served there he was in his twenties - so definitely not 38 at the time. That said, I suppose I’m old fashioned enough to think that once you’ve been elected to a representative body you lose most rights to excuse your behavior on the grounds of being young, so am generally pro- striking the adjective.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:44 AM on April 2 [17 favorites]


Ah. My fault for not reading the article. Thank you for the clarification.

Though yes, using 'young' as exculpatory for predatory behavior is never a good choice, and old enough to be an elected state rep is certainly old enough to have no excuses for that sort of thing.
posted by bcd at 12:20 PM on April 2


Who's excusing their behavior for being young?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 12:59 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


> The really surprising part of that is that there were sex workers willing to take a check from a client.

Not to derail, but this Harry Nilsson biography I recently read had a great anecdote about a pre-fame Nilsson's attempt to pay a sex worker with a cheque, which he figured would be fine because he was a manager at a bank at the time. Long story short, the cheque was not accepted and he was subsequently accompanied by a third party while he procured some cash.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:49 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Gaetz is said to have boasted of his ‘access to women’ provided by friend charged in sex-trafficking case. "Federal law enforcement officials suspect that Greenberg procured a number of women for Gaetz and are exploring whether they sometimes shared sexual partners, including at least one girl who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged encounter, a person familiar with the matter said."
posted by BungaDunga at 5:37 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]




EmpressCallipygos: Wait. That slicked-back hairstyle was a thing in the 1920s....are these dudes maybe trying to emulate The Great Gatsby?

Oh come now, Empress, surely you know these people don't read.
posted by tzikeh at 10:43 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


Oh come now, Empress, surely you know these people don't read.

*snerk*

Well, maybe they saw the 1974 movie adaptation. (That one was a little more period-accurate than Baz Lurhmann's.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Gaetz sex probe suddenly threatens a speedy Washington rise (AP), in which someone reads Gaetz's book:
In Gaetz’s book, in a first chapter called “Sex and Money,” he wrote that when he arrived in Congress, he asked current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy*, R-Calif., for a seat on the Armed Services Committee. Gaetz wrote that “to my shock,” McCarthy suggested he contribute $75,000 to the House GOP’s campaign committee — a donation Gaetz wrote he actually doubled.
Matt Gaetz has a seat on the Armed Services Committee.
posted by box at 7:32 AM on April 3 [9 favorites]


Passive voice strikes again. How about: "Sources said some women referred to him as "Creepy Gaetz" because the junior lawmaker allegedly made them feel uncomfortable"?

Even the allegedly in there is weird. If the women are saying they are uncomfortable for reasons then they are uncomfortable for reasons. There is no need for an alleged in that position in the sentence. The alleged part would be in regard to the claim that they referred to him as "Creepy Gaetz" not with regard to their reasoning/feelings which presumably they would have direct access to.
posted by srboisvert at 7:37 AM on April 3 [16 favorites]


The sentence is written to imply that the "sources" are people other than the "some women" who were made uncomfortable. If that's the case, "allegedly" would seem to make sense, since the reporter is relying on another person's claim about the women's state(s) of mind.

(As a very minor aside, this is the kind of reporting that would be in serious danger if the requirement of "actual malice" for defamation of a public figure were eliminated, which there has been some chatter about lately.)
posted by Not A Thing at 9:18 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Interesting article on the evolving media language and focus on Gaetz.

https://reason.com/2021/04/02/matt-gaetz-story-shifts-from-child-sex-trafficking-to-consorting-with-sugar-babies/
Whereas the first Times story made allegations involving a 17-year-old seem like the emphasis of the DOJ inquiry, the paper now says that officials are merely looking into the possibility of such a relationship existing, as part of prosecuting another Florida politician, ex-GOP official Joel Greenberg, for multiple crimes including alleged misconduct with the girl.

The bulk of the Times' new allegations against Gaetz involve sexual activity with consenting adults—activity that the paper now suggests is the real focus of the DOJ inquiry. Prosecutors are "focusing on [Gaetz and Greenberg's] involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments," the Times says. At the heart of this new narrative is a claim that Gaetz and Greenberg partied with women they met on sugar baby websites.

...

Meanwhile, the Times is still trying hard to work this story into a sex trafficking framework. While reporting that the FBI stopped questioning the women involved back in January, acknowledging that "no charges have been brought against Mr. Gaetz," and failing to raise any information suggesting that the women involved were forced or coerced, the paper still adds this:

" It is not illegal to provide adults with free hotel stays, meals and other gifts, but if prosecutors think they can prove that the payments to the women were for sex, they could accuse Mr. Gaetz of trafficking the women under "force, fraud or coercion." For example, prosecutors have filed trafficking charges against people suspected of providing drugs in exchange for sex because feeding another person's drug habit could be seen as a form of coercion."

It's yet another attempt to negate adult women's agency in service of redefining all sex work as "sex trafficking" and give federal police more domain over the private sex lives of consenting adults.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:55 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


That Reason article is utter bullshit. It implies that the Times changed the facts around its reporting to diminish the allegations that Gaetz had sex with an underage girl, but that's not the case at all. The Times article it discusses merely adds new details on top of the earlier allegations, and reiterates that one of the women whose relationship with Gaetz is being investigated was 17 at the time.

The Reason article also says it's not a defense of Gaetz per se while at the same time going out of it's way to cast doubt on some of the most serious allegations against him. Reason appears to be the mouthpiece of a libertarian think tank with an obvious agenda, so I'd take anything I read in there with a huge grain of salt.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 12:38 PM on April 3 [23 favorites]


Trump Isn’t Coming to Matt Gaetz’s Rescue—for Now (The Daily Beast, April 3, 2021) Just on Thursday, it came out that Gaetz is also under investigation for improper use of campaign funds, that he has shown naked pictures of women to fellow lawmakers on the House floor, and that the anchor of the case against him may be a sex ring with an indicted Florida politician.

Not exactly the guy you want to jump to defend.


Investigators are also pursuing allegations from witnesses and other evidence that Gaetz may have used cash and drugs in his dealings with young women, the sources said. (CNN, April 2, 2021)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:49 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's bullshit. The Times and a lot of media have been trying to blur the lines between sex work and trafficking. THAT'S what it's pointing out.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:57 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


The Times and a lot of media have been trying to blur the lines between sex work and trafficking. THAT'S what it's pointing out.

And which party is Gaetz a member of? And what has their position been on sex work and sex trafficking and the rights of women? What bill was Gaetz the single "No" vote on?

Nah, it's a libertarian right-wing opinion piece trying to pull a "liberals are the real hypocrites" twist by claiming that just because the NYT has factually reported that Gaetz may have been involved in consensual relationships that included trading money and drugs for sex then therefore it's sex work (in a form that may technically not be illegal) and aren't woke liberals always claiming that sex work should be legal?

The Gaetz story hasn't "shifted" nearly as much as that Reason essay claims, and it's irrelevant anyway if 1) he actually was involved with an underage woman and 2) if he used campaign funds for any of his dalliances, regardless if they were consensual or sex work or a form of sex work that is not technically illegal.

It's the Reason piece itself trying to shift the narrative by selective analysis of the media coverage.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:54 PM on April 3 [28 favorites]


And juuuust in case it wasn't clear, that first paragraph of my above comment refers to the fact that it's Republican Matt Gaetz who is in trouble here, and if any party is guilty of hypocrisy about sex work and sex scandals, it's the Republicans, who have a 50+ year history of refusing to keep their hands out of American citizens' pants on the supposed basis of morality or Christianity or whatever. While being themselves responsible for an overwhelming number of scandals, assaults, and harassments.

Any analysis of the Gaetz situation that doesn't start with a clear and emphatic acknowledgment of that fact is horseshit.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:42 PM on April 3 [10 favorites]


The Times and a lot of media have been trying to blur the lines between sex work and trafficking.

The Times doesn't define what trafficking is. There's a legal definition and if Gaetz is charged it will be up to the jury to decide whether his actions meet that definition. The Times didn't make the story up whole cloth, it's merely relaying the fact that the DOJ is investigating Gaetz for possible trafficking.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 4:49 PM on April 3 [14 favorites]


And my understanding is, the reason it comes up as "trafficking" as opposed to rape of a minor or prostitution is because that's the charge that carries at the federal level which is the "across state lines" charge. Which, I kind of think is weird but, you know, weird stuff happens when you and your older male buddies start trolling on the internet for children to bang.
posted by amanda at 8:11 AM on April 4 [10 favorites]


Rep. Matt Gaetz's media blitz publicized a federal investigation. Legal experts say that poses risks (USA Today, April 3, 2021) Denying allegations before charges are filed is rare in general, although more common for political figures as a way to counter accusations in the court of public opinion. Gaetz went on a full-court press when the allegations arose Tuesday, providing print and television interviews to confirm the investigation and promote his extortion claim. His public appearances declined later in the week, but he continued to proclaim his innocence and draw attention to news stories about the probe on Twitter. Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor in private practice in Chicago, called Gaetz's comments a “tremendous gift” to investigators.

“The reason good lawyers don’t let clients talk to people who are investigating them usually is because it is so dangerous,” Cotter said. “Even if you are completely innocent of the actual allegation, you may make statements which either open you up to an allegation that you’re making false statements to obstruct justice or otherwise mislead the investigators. [...] It’s very dangerous because it paints him into a particular story, which later facts may show he’s not telling the truth about or honestly mistaken,” Cotter said. “It’s a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea legally.”
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:56 PM on April 4 [9 favorites]


Some analysis & some news(-ish)

Philip Bump in The Washington Post: “Given the dire allegations against him, Matt Gaetz is very well-insulated”
By contrast [with Democrats and Andrew Cuomo], Republicans have been mostly mum about Gaetz. Certainly part of this is that the more serious component of the allegations, that Justice Department investigation, is largely under wraps and, again, Gaetz hasn’t been charged with anything. But it’s hard to imagine Republican legislators staying quiet about the other allegations being made against Gaetz were they leveled against a Democratic representative.
Jason Garcia in The Orlando Sentinel: “Former lawmaker says Gaetz fought ‘revenge porn’ law: ‘He thought that any picture was his to use as he wanted’”
“Matt was absolutely against it. He thought the picture was his to do with what he wanted,” Goodson said. “He thought that any picture was his to use as he wanted to, as an expression of his rights.”
posted by Going To Maine at 8:16 PM on April 5 [5 favorites]


Alexandra Petri at WaPo: This should not happen more than once
(Not funny, angry)
But if you can’t do it zero times, then ideally it happens only once. It happens only once, because the moment you do it, the person you show it to responds the way a person should respond. You produce your photograph to your colleague, and your colleague looks at you and says, “Never show that to anyone, ever again. Go home and rethink your life. I do not feel closer to you. If anything, I want to have you removed forcibly from my presence by strong gentlemen whose biceps are tattooed with ‘MOM.’ The fact that you thought this would make us closer makes me question every decision in my life that has led me to this point. Leave now and never come back.”
But we can probably suppose that this is not what happened, because life is regrettably unstingy with moments like this, when a small awkward “no” seems too costly. Perhaps the person to whom this was shown emitted a sort of uncomfortable, nervous laugh, and this was viewed as acceptance enough. Or worse, he leered at it, encouraged it. Or, still worse (a scenario alleged to have existed during Gaetz’s time in the Florida state House), he joined a fun little club with Gaetz and others to assign themselves conquest points.
posted by mumimor at 2:30 AM on April 6 [11 favorites]


I am not even 1 percent shocked at any of this. It's so goddamned typical.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:32 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Elements of this are starting to sound more and more like the setup to a Carl Hiassen novel.

From TheDailyBeast: Gaetz’s Accused Extorter Confirms, Denies $25 Million Shakedown.
"Air Force veteran and “research consultant” Bob Kent verified to Sirius Radio personality Michael Smerconish that he had approached Gaetz’s deep-pocketed father, former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, last month seeking a $25 million loan. The funds would ransom the release of Robert Levinson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared in Iran more than a decade ago. Levinson’s own family believes him to be dead, but Kent has insisted he has evidence Levinson is alive and remains a hostage of the Islamic Republic, though credible experts have dismissed his claims.

Kent said he was aware at the time that Matt Gaetz might have “legal issues” and that he suggested that assisting in the mission would create “good will” toward the congressman. Although Kent didn’t say it outright, those issues seem to be the recently surfaced allegations that the lawmaker paid women for sex—including, possibly, an underage girl—and misused campaign funds.

“Matt Gaetz is in need of good publicity, and I’m in need of $25 million to save Robert Levinson,” Kent told Smerconish."
As in, self-styled soldier-of-fortune type thinks (for whatever reasons, possibly including the fact that Levinson's family is in Gaetz's district) that Dad Gaetz might be willing to bankroll a private hostage rescue "mission". Having gotten wind of Matt's potential legal troubles, that becomes part of his pitch to Dad - "Yo, your kid might be caught up in an investigation, we pull this rescue off and it'll earn him brownie points with the public and various law enforcement agencies." Dad Gaetz (probably) reaches out to his own LEO contacts and gets told, "This is fishy as hell, everyone knows Levinson is dead, it's probably some kind of scam, why don'tcha wear a wire to your next meeting with this Kent guy, let's see what's going on."

Which is not to minimize Matt Gaetz being a fucking creep, but it smells like this whole "extortion" thing he's trying to trot out is a largely a whole separate deal rooted in the shadowy world of "private military contractors" and their scams and the right-wing paranoid fantasies of folks who think Ollie North did nothing wrong and long for the glory days of Iran-Contra.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:55 AM on April 6 [10 favorites]


"this is a Coen brothers movie" is a hack observation at this point, but seriously . .. . this is a Coen brothers movie.
posted by Think_Long at 6:45 AM on April 6 [7 favorites]


Rep. Matt Gaetz declared that he would "absolutely not" resign from his seat in Congress in a new op-ed published almost a week after national news outlets reported he was under investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and for paying for sex with other women. (USA Today, April 5, 2021) "Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal," Gaetz wrote in the piece published Monday by The Washington Examiner. Gaetz went on to characterize the accusations against him as a political attack.

"I want to be clear about something as we process the leaks and lies from the past week," Gaetz wrote. "To this point, there are exactly zero credible (or even non-credible) accusers willing to come forward by name and state on the public record that I behaved improperly toward them, in the manner by which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has 10 accusers."

posted by Iris Gambol at 11:34 AM on April 6


"I want to be clear about something as we process the leaks and lies from the past week," Gaetz wrote. "To this point, there are exactly zero credible (or even non-credible) accusers willing to come forward by name and state on the public record that I behaved improperly toward them, in the manner by which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has 10 accusers."

Gaetz was nominally a lawyer, right? So is he intentionally trying to sow confusion about the stage that this apparent investigation is in? (There's no requirement for witnesses in a criminal case to make any sort of public pronouncements or accusations prior to or at any time outside of their testimony at an actual trial. In fact, we've seen many cases where witnesses in sexual assault cases who have spoken publicly outside of their trial testimony have been harassed and have had the fact that they publicly announced their allegations used against them in accusations that they were just doing it for publicity. It was Gaetz himself who has done most of the leaking and publicizing of his case, as far as I can tell - at least, his pre-denials seem to have been reporters' primary leads for what to look into, to understand what it was that he was denying in the first place.) Or is he, in keeping with all of his other dumb behavior around this whole situation, kind of admitting to witness tampering and intimidation? Or is he just that dumb that he doesn't understand how investigations and trials work, despite having been a lawyer (which is not a huge stretch for believability, really, except that he also seems to be a manipulative and amoral prick so the first two options are also highly believable)? Or all of the above?
posted by eviemath at 11:46 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


He's deliberately conflating criminal investigations with the sort of public shaming that Cuomo is facing.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:53 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Trump and his allies abandon Gaetz (Politico), in which the headline overstates things a bit--Gaetz has retained the support of Jim Jordan (who has a covering-up-abuse scandal of his own) and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who makes Sarah Palin look like Barbara Bush.
posted by box at 11:55 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


(Cuomo's also facing some sort of official investigation too, though, if I recall correctly? But of course that is entirely beside the point and not relevant to Gaetz' situation.)
posted by eviemath at 11:57 AM on April 6


(Cuomo's also facing some sort of official investigation too, though, if I recall correctly? But of course that is entirely beside the point and not relevant to Gaetz' situation.)

You're right, there is one. It's under a provision of NY law that lets the Governor refer an investigation to the attorney general, it's not a criminal probe though it has subpoena powers.

(The investigation of Cuomo only exists because of the public allegations, he had to be pressured to even permit the investigation to be independent)
posted by BungaDunga at 12:10 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Trump and his allies abandon Gaetz (Politico), in which the headline overstates things a bit--Gaetz has retained the support of Jim Jordan (who has a covering-up-abuse scandal of his own) and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who makes Sarah Palin look like Barbara Bush.

The “overstating” part of this should also be that they simply aren’t talking about Gaetz. For him to lose support, they need to call on him to be censured by the ethics committee and/or to resign. Anything less is, in fact, tacit support in hopes that the scandal will go away. It’s real dang gross.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:18 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


Gaetz fought revenge porn bill, saying ex-lovers can use photos as they see fit, sponsor says (WaPo) This has been mentioned before, but the article has more details.

Matt Gaetz, Loyal for Years to Trump, Is Said to Have Sought a Blanket Pardon

Recently, I was trying to explain to my twenty-year old and her boyfriend about the Bush years and 9-11 and it all seemed so strange. They kept asking why, and I sounded more and more like conspiracy theorist. I wonder in twenty years from now, what I will tell my grandson about the Trump years. I hope society will have evolved, so he will think I am making it all up.
posted by mumimor at 1:47 AM on April 7 [15 favorites]


Which is not to minimize Matt Gaetz being a fucking creep, but it smells like this whole "extortion" thing he's trying to trot out is a largely a whole separate deal rooted in the shadowy world of "private military contractors" and their scams and the right-wing paranoid fantasies of folks who think Ollie North did nothing wrong and long for the glory days of Iran-Contra.

There was even a Tom Hanks movie along these lines about covertly funding war against the USSR if Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson's War. Which we all know turned out really well in the long run.
posted by srboisvert at 5:14 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Gaetz went on to characterize the accusations against him as a political attack.

I have a theory that politicians are at their weakest when they complain about politics.
posted by rhizome at 7:43 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Sources: Gaetz trip to Bahamas part of federal probe into sex trafficking (CBS News, via Yahoo, April 7, 2021) Federal investigators are looking into a Bahamas trip Matt Gaetz allegedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 as part of an inquiry into whether the Florida representative violated sex trafficking laws, multiple sources told CBS News. Gaetz was on that trip with a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon named Jason Pirozzolo, who allegedly paid for the travel expenses, accommodations, and female escorts, the sources said.

Investigators are trying to determine if the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with the congressman.


Donald Trump finally breaks silence on Matt Gaetz scandal to deny pardon claims (The Independent, April 7, 2021) The former president backed one of his most loyal supporters to dispute reporting in The New York Times that Mr Gaetz wanted "blanket preemptive pardons" for crimes potentially committed.

“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon. It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

posted by Iris Gambol at 9:27 PM on April 7


It must indeed...be remembered.
posted by rhizome at 10:04 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Indicted Matt Gaetz Associate Is Expected to Plead Guilty, Lawyers Say [NYT]

A former local official in Florida who faces an array of federal charges, including a sex trafficking count, is expected to plead guilty in the coming weeks, a prosecutor and a defense lawyer said on Thursday in an indication that the defendant could cooperate as a key witness against Representative Matt Gaetz, who is under investigation.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:55 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


From the Daily Beast's political reporter, Matt Fuller: "The Daily Beast obtained documents of Joel Greenberg's Venmo transactions.

"In 2018, Matt Gaetz paid Greenberg $900, with the memo reading "hit up____," using a nickname for one of the girls. Six hours later, Greenberg paid three young women $900."

Daily Beast story
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:47 PM on April 8 [4 favorites]


Uh, Charlie Wilson's War was based on actual events, although I'm not sure how fictionalized the film is. I think Crile's book is generally regarded as a decent work of investigative journalism.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:04 AM on April 9


"In 2018, Matt Gaetz paid Greenberg $900, with the memo reading "hit up____," using a nickname for one of the girls. Six hours later, Greenberg paid three young women $900."

the man left receipts. unbelievable
posted by dis_integration at 4:08 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


He has always been among the dumbest of shits. It's so poetic that this is all happening to him that I want a Shakespeare scholar to tell me which play this is from.
posted by rhizome at 4:44 PM on April 9 [7 favorites]


Maybe Gaetz travels in different circles than I do, but sending even an adult woman $900 is not normal relationship behavior. Having your corrupt bagman wingman Venmo a teenager almost a thousand dollars is... it’s something.
posted by box at 4:53 PM on April 9 [7 favorites]




Holy crap, the events on that time line are wild.
posted by Mitheral at 2:16 PM on April 11


It appears that he funneled lots of county money into Bitcoin. Is it unrecoverable?
posted by amanda at 3:23 PM on April 11


'Felt Like a Setup,' (Politico, 4/12), in which Joel Greenberg tells an unnamed friend that he's paying the (former, she's 20 now) 17-year old's legal fees.
posted by box at 3:24 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


It appears that Joel Greenberg decided to cooperate with the Justice Department investigation last year: Indicted Gaetz Associate Is Said to Be Cooperating With Justice Dept.
posted by gladly at 7:27 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Women Detail Drug Use, Sex, and Payments After Late-Night Parties with Gaetz and Others (CNN, autoplay video, has some new details from women who attended Gaetz-linked parties)
"One of the women said she received money from Greenberg after some of the parties. She said that some of the payments were for providing sex but would not say who she slept with. She did say she never received money directly from Gaetz."
She continues with the v relatable:
"No one ever wants to stop partying, stop drinking, once you've had a few glasses of champagne in you."
posted by box at 1:04 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: I've met with Gaetz, he professed innocence (Politico, April 15, 2021) McCarthy also denied being made aware of any red flags about Gaetz, following media reports that then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) met with Gaetz in 2017 to discuss the then-freshman congressman’s behavior. At the time, McCarthy was House majority leader.

“When I was majority leader, I wasn’t part of that discussion, and I didn’t know about that,” McCarthy said, adding: “If you’re wondering if I knew anything about what’s being alleged now, no.”
[...] McCarthy’s comments came after Gaetz announced a six-figure ad buy Wednesday targeting CNN — part of the congressman’s efforts to paint himself as the victim of anti-conservative media bias.

Matt Gaetz makes six-figure ad buy targeting CNN amid sex trafficking allegations (The Hill, April 14, 2021) The ad includes footage by the far-right activist group Project Veritas that shows a man identified as a CNN employee talking about news coverage of Gaetz, Politico reported. Project Veritas is known for publishing undercover sting footage that has been deceptively edited to reflect badly on organizations and people it disagrees with. [...] Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) became the first GOP lawmaker to call for Gaetz's resignation last week, writing in a short tweet, "Matt Gaetz needs to resign."
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:59 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


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