The FBI has questioned several women who claim they were paid to sleep with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and his friends in drug-fueled trysts, according to a report on Thursday.
The interviews were conducted as part of the federal probe into the Republican congressman, which focuses on his alleged ties to several women who were recruited online for sex and paid for their services, the New York Times reported.
Receipts from CashApp and Apple Pay that the Times reviewed reportedly showed payments from Gaetz to one of the women, who told pals the money was in exchange for sex.
Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector, allegedly introduced Gaetz to the women, who he had met on websites offering dates in exchange for gifts, money and travel, the report said.
Sources told the Times that both Greenberg and Gaetz had sex with the women during encounters in 2019 and 2020.
Gaetz and Greenberg would allegedly tell the women when and where to meet, often at hotels around Florida, and would also indicate how much they were willing to pay, the newspaper reported.
In some instances, Gaetz allegedly asked the women to help recruit others who may be interested in sleeping with him and his buddies, the report said.
Feds probe Fla. Rep. Matt Gaetz over alleged relationship with teen girl
Before the trysts, some of the women and men, including Gaetz, would allegedly take the illegal hallucinogenic drug ecstasy.
Greenberg, a political ally of Gaetz, was indicted last summer on federal sex-trafficking charges and other offenses.
Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams tore into the “mealy-mouthed responses” from companies based in the state over a controversial election law that was passed last month that critics say amounts to voter suppression.
“The companies that stood silently by or gave mealy-mouthed responses during the debate were wrong,” Abrams said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “What people want to know now is where they stand on this fundamental issue of voting rights.”
Abrams, who rose to prominence with her high-profile 2018 gubernatorial bid, said she did not think a boycott of the companies was necessary “yet,” but her remarks marked an escalation from her earlier comments this week.
Abrams said she was “deeply disappointed” that the companies only spoke up after the bill was signed into law but hoped it was the start of further criticism.
“Hopefully, we’ll build such a hue and cry that the Legislature will have to correct what they’ve done,” she said. “But these companies sell their products across the country, and across the country there are Black and brown voters who need to know they’re not being left behind.”
The remarks from Abrams, who is widely credited with helping Democrats win the presidential race and two Senate contests in Georgia, come amid mounting pressure from liberals for the private sector to act over the controversial law.
Democrats have floated boycotts of Georgia-based corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines after they did not swiftly condemn the voting bill signed into law last week, and others have called for Major League Baseball’s All Star Game to be moved from Georgia.
Following the pressure, both Coca-Cola and Delta came out swinging against the law, with Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey calling it “unacceptable” and “a step backwards.”
The law will impose strict restrictions on voting, including mandating photo IDs for absentee voting, curtailing the number of ballot drop-off boxes and making it illegal for people other than poll workers to provide food or water to voters as they wait in lines to cast their ballots.
Abrams on Wednesday had said boycotts could unintentionally hurt people they are designed to help.
“One lesson of boycotts is that the pain of deprivation must be shared to be sustainable,” she said Wednesday.
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“Otherwise, those least resilient bear the brunt of these actions; and in the aftermath, they struggle to access the victory,” Abrams continued. “And boycotts are complicated affairs that require a long-term commitment to action.”
Gaetz, who denies ever paying for sex, reportedly came under scrutiny through the larger investigation into Greenberg.
The Times on Tuesday revealed that the Department of Justice is actively probing whether Gaetz, 38, had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid her to travel with him across state lines. Gaetz has denied the allegations “in the strongest possible terms.”
The sex trafficking charge against Greenberg allegedly involved the same teenager, two people briefed on the investigation told the newspaper.
No charges have been brought against Gaetz.
His office issued a statement to the Times saying that “Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex.”
“Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.”