Far-right Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) continues to face fallout after the public disclosure of a federal investigation into his alleged sex trafficking of a minor.
News broke earlier this month that former President Donald Trump's Justice Department began investigating Gaetz's possible sexual relationship with a 17 year old girl and whether Gaetz paid for her to travel across state lines.
After the public disclosure of the investigation, a host of disturbing and salacious reporting on Gaetz's behavior began to surface, including allegations that Gaetz showed nude pictures of his sexual partners to colleagues on the House floor, and that—during his time in the Florida state legislature—he played a game where participants earned varying degrees of "points" for their sexual activities.
Gaetz has fervently denied the allegations, insisting that the investigation is an extortion effort against him and vowing that he's never paid for sex.
But new reporting from the Daily Beast is casting doubt on that claim after it gained access to some of Gaetz's 2018 transactions on the mobile payment service Venmo.
Gaetz sent $900 to Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, who's been indicted on 33 separate counts, including the sex trafficking of a minor. The following morning, Greenberg sent payments totaling $900 to three different women, one of whom had just turned 18.
According to the Daily Beast:
The memo field for the first of Gaetz's transactions to Greenberg was titled 'Test.' In the second, the Florida GOP congressman wrote 'hit up ___.' But instead of a blank, Gaetz wrote a nickname for one of the recipients. (The Daily Beast is not sharing that nickname because the teenager had only turned 18 less than six months before.) When Greenberg then made his Venmo payments to these three young women, he described the money as being for 'Tuition,' 'School,' and 'School.'"
The story was published just hours after Gaetz released an unsigned letter from "the women of Matt Gaetz's office" defending his character—and after prosecutors indicated that Greenberg would be cooperating with them.
While people weren't surprised at the evidence for Gaetz's guilt, they were stunned that a member of Congress had their Venmo transactions public—and apparently used that public Venmo to pay for sex.
When Venmo asks “What’s it for?” I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t list the crime... https://t.co/ultIrFERHG— S.E. Cupp (@S.E. Cupp)1617931206.0
This year has persuaded me that sometimes the FBI's job is considerably less difficult than you'd guess from tv. https://t.co/eEIIEtyett— Brad Heath (@Brad Heath)1617932992.0
Wait — you are a member of Congress and you had your Venmo transactions on public??! https://t.co/lnhlLxLZj1— Seung Min Kim (@Seung Min Kim)1617929235.0
Matt Gaetz has committed the modern version of the time Jerry Springer, back when he was a politician in Cincinnati… https://t.co/vyo6XNRUX8— Eric Kleefeld (@Eric Kleefeld)1617929148.0
The most amazing part about this is that Gaetz likes to present himself as a tech-savvy millennial (he's a member o… https://t.co/BlaRkGPaSa— Goldman Vax (@Goldman Vax)1617977696.0
These sleezeballs are DIS-GUST-ING 😡 https://t.co/nX2kcAgGOZ— Cassandra Lazenby (@Cassandra Lazenby)1617939402.0
And the pressure Gaetz was already facing to resign is even greater.
⏰Will Gaetz resign before Monday or after? https://t.co/EL16E52c8j— Jennifer Taub (@Jennifer Taub)1617927487.0
He needs to resign immediately. Like stop stalling. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Its over. Go to jail. https://t.co/f2CuuKvXbj— ꪖꪑꪖ᥅ꪗlliᦓ🥀🦂 (@ꪖꪑꪖ᥅ꪗlliᦓ🥀🦂)1617966985.0
A second senior staffer for Gaetz, Legislative Director Devin Murphy, has resigned.