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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Rep. Matt Gaetz

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

When last we left Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz … Wait. Can we just leave Matt Gaetz? Apparently the answer is no, after a week in which we've learned that the revenge-porn-loving Republican:

  • ran a sex game in which points were awarded for sleeping with interns and staffers, with bonus points for virgins;
  • was connected with, if not co-owner, of an operation making fake IDs for underage girls;
  • sought a blanket pardon for himself, his friends, and unnamed other members of Congress;
  • showed off nude photos of women while on the floor of the House, while his staffers sent still more videos to their counterparts in other offices.

And all that is on top of the base-level scandal in which Gaetz is being investigated for working with indicted sex trafficker Joel Greenberg to recruit women for sex over the internet, including possibly at least one 17-year-old. While Gaetz has denied paying for sex, however, he has admitted to being "generous" to his "dates," which apparently includes paying for flights, hotels, and providing "gifts." About the only thing that isn't clear, is whether those gifts came in the form of bundles of cash.

On Wednesday evening, the flood-gaetz squeezed open a little wider and added an international flair to the ever-expanding scandal. CBS News is reporting that the sex trips under investigation may have included at least one in which Gaetz didn't have the women delivered to him, but one in which he traveled to the Bahamas. And to make everything still more bizarre, it introduces a new Gaetz associate who is described as "a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon."

Let us hope Gaetz's friend Jason Pirozzolo does not engage in both his advertised professions at the same time. Because mid-surgery is a bad time for the munchies.

As CBS reports in one of the best sentences of the entire affair: "In a July 2018 podcast, Pirozzolo told Ganjapreneur.com that Gaetz was working to introduce federal legislation that would boost medical research of cannabis."

Medical research is good. Anything that might reduce marijuana's ridiculous treatment in federal law is better. However, Pirozzolo's statement seems to have come either shortly before, or shortly after, a trip to the Bahamas in which the ganjapreneur paid for both the flight and accommodations. That alone might be enough to trigger an investigation into bribery. However, Pirozzolo also reportedly paid for "female escorts" during Gaetz's time in the islands.

Pirozzolo's organization working to expand medical marijuana might also look more legitimate if the speakers at its organizing conferences were not Matt Gaetz and Roger Stone.

Gaetz's office quickly released a statement saying that the pardon story was "nonsense" and that the latest revelations show that this is all "a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults." But there's no indication that any part of the investigation has been dropped. Instead, what's reaching the public is what Gaetz himself predicted in a self-serving op-ed earlier this week: that drip, drip, drip of new information.

Though the revelations about the investigation into Gaetz are just one week old, the investigation itself is not. Greenberg was first arrested almost a year ago, and Gaetz was under investigation well before Bill Barr stepped down as attorney general. The DOJ still seems to be moving through all the possible charges, which could be considerable, seeing that Gaetz's partner Greenberg is facing at least 33 indictments.

As for the pardon, Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz conducted a two-step on Wednesday in which Trump issued a statement saying that Gaetz "never asked me" for a pardon, after which Gaetz called the whole story a product of the press effort to stop him from taking on "the most powerful institutions in the Beltway." However, what was actually reported was that Gaetz asked White House attorneys for a pardon, and those attorneys recommended Trump not take such an action, in part because Gaetz was asking for a broad, undefined pardon for a whole group of people.

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This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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