NY Times: Matt Gaetz being investigated over sexual relationship with 17-year-old

Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is 38-years-old, is being investigated by the DOJ over a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old. According to the Times, this investigation began during the Trump administration:

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…

The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — were notified of the investigation, the people said.

This is apparently an offshoot of another ongoing investigation into former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg. Greenberg was arrested last summer amid allegations that he “stalked a political opponent, illegally used a state database to create fake IDs and sex trafficked a minor.” His trial is coming up in June. According to court filings, the minor involved was older than 14 but not yet 18-years-old. But it’s not clear if the girl Greenberg is accused of trafficking is the same person Gaetz is being investigated over.

For his part, Gaetz is denying the allegations and claiming they are part of an extortion plot:

“I only know that it has to do with women,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

Mr. Gaetz called the investigation part of an elaborate scheme involving “false sex allegations” to extort him and his family for $25 million. He said he and his father, Don Gaetz, had been cooperating with the F.B.I. after they were approached by people saying they could make the investigation “go away.”

The FBI is not supposed to comment on ongoing investigations but Rep. Gaetz’ claim that he is working with them would be an easy lie for the FBI to debunk if it were not true.

Finally, this may be a coincidence but Rep. Gaetz was in the news today even before this story broke. Axios reported this morning that Gaetz was thinking about early retirement:

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.

Gaetz wouldn’t be the first Republican congressman to leave Washington for a TV job but the timing of these rumors is interesting. Gaetz is currently engaged to 26-year-old Ginger Luckey.