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Tag: matt gaetz scandal

Gaetz Probe Intensifies With Scrutiny Of ‘Central Florida Political Scene’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Amid the federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), prosecutors have also focused their attention on the Central Florida political scene. Since investigators gained the cooperation of Gaetz's ally, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, they have reportedly been able to accelerate their probe, according to ABC News.

In May, Greenberg entered a guilty plea on six out of 33 charges including stalking, sex trafficking, wire fraud, identity theft, and conspiracy to bribe a public official. As part of his plea deal, there is speculation he could provide prosecutors with evidence and testimony that could compromise the Florida lawmaker.

In addition to interviewing a number of women who met Gaetz through Greenberg, investigators have also issued a new round of subpoenas and target letters. The investigation has also led to a probe into the political scene; one that Gaetz and Greenberg are very familiar with.

Per ABC News:

"Another avenue investigators have been focusing on recently, according to sources, are contracts that Greenberg handed out through the tax office totaling more than $1.5 million, which an independent audit late last year described as "unnecessary" and "considered to be a waste of taxpayer dollars," according to documents in the forensic audit of the tax office obtained by ABC News through a public records request."

So what could come of Greenberg's testimony and the political probe? Greenberg's lawyer, Fritz Schiller, hinted at the possibility of his client's cooperation signaling trouble for other politicians.

"Does my client have information that could hurt an elected official?" Schiller said. "I guess this is must-see television. You'll just have to wait and see."

The publication also shed light on another clue that could suggest there is trouble ahead for Gaetz. Earlier that day, an aircraft flying a banner that read," "Tick Tock Matt Gaetz" was also seen flying above the Orlando, Florida, federal courthouse.

Newsmax Has 'No Plans To Hire Rep. Gaetz'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL.) expressed interest in pursuing a career as a political commentator, he was immediately linked to news outlets like Fox News and Newsmax. However, the federal investigation he is facing for alleged sex trafficking appears to have nixed all possibilities of him pursuing a career in right-wing media, at least for Newsmax.

On Monday, June 7, Newsmax spokesperson Brian Peterson released a statement to Reuters confirming where the network stands regarding the Florida lawmaker.

"Newsmax has had no plans to hire Rep. Gaetz," Peterson told Reuters. An individual with knowledge of Newsmax's policies also said, "Earlier this year, [Gaetz] reached out and said he might leave Congress early and was interested in TV work."

But despite Gaetz's interest, the person said at the time that Newsmax "never told him we were interested."

The latest comes as the federal probe into Gaetz continues. Federal authorities have also focused their investigative efforts on Gaetz's associate Joel Greenberg. In May, the former Seminole County tax collector "pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking a female minor to other adult men who engaged in sex acts with the minor," according to Reuters. In addition to the guilty plea, he also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of his deal.

When Gaetz spoke to Newsmax last month, he weighed in on the investigation saying, "The anonymous allegations against me range from total distortions of my life to these crazy and wild conspiracy theories that will never be proven, but they always come for the fighters."

Over the last two months, Gaetz's case has evolved.

Talking Points Memo reports:

"Allegations of misconduct by Gaetz have ballooned to include payments to women in exchange for sex in arrangements with his wingman, former tax collector Joel Greenberg, who has pleaded guilty for child sex trafficking. Investigators are also reportedly looking at whether Gaetz was involved in a pay-for-play scheme in Florida's marijuana industry."

As of Tuesday, June 8, Gaetz has not yet been charged in connection with the investigation.

Gaetz: The Second Amendment Is Meant For ‘Armed Rebellion’

Reprinted with permission from from American Independent

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told an audience of supporters at a rally on Thursday that the Second Amendment is about "the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government."

Gaetz spoke in Dalton, Georgia, in his latest in a series of appearances alongside Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Telling the crowd that they must fight to preserve their rights under the Constitution, he referred to its Second Amendment.

"The Second Amendment is not about, it's not about hunting, it's not about recreation, it's not about sports," Gaetz said. "The Second Amendment is about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary. I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood."

Gaetz also told his audience, "The internet's hall monitors out in Silicon Valley, they think they can suppress us, discourage us ... Well, you know what? Silicon Valley can't cancel this movement. Or this rally. Or this congressman."

Gaetz was possibly thinking of media reporting on the fact that he is currently the subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation. His close associate, former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, recently pleaded guilty to six federal charges and admitted to a federal judge that he paid and solicited a minor for sex.

Reporting has indicated that Greenberg is cooperating with prosecutors in their investigation.

From a May 27 "America First" rally in Dalton, Georgia:

MATT GAETZ: In this fight back, we are not powerless. This is a powerful movement. We are powerful people. As President Trump reminds us, we are the elite now.
And so let us use the Constitution to strengthen our argument and our movement. We have a First Amendment right to speak and assemble and we better use it. The internet's hall monitors out in Silicon Valley, they think they can suppress us, discourage us, maybe if you're just a little less patriotic, maybe if you just conform to their way of thinking a little more, then you'll be allowed to participate in the digital world.
Well, you know what? Silicon Valley can't cancel this movement. Or this rally. Or this congressman.
We have a Second Amendment in this country, and I think we have an obligation to use it.
The Second Amendment, this is a little history lesson for all the fake news media, the Second Amendment is not about, it's not about hunting, it's not about recreation, it's not about sports.
The Second Amendment is about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary. I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

As Ex-Girlfriend Flips For Prosecutors, Gaetz Insists He’s Ignoring Scandal

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has tried to set up a smokescreen, insisting he's "not focused on scandal" as news breaks his ex-girlfriend has flipped and is now cooperating with federal authorities, just like his former "wingman," Joel Greenberg.

Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking and possible sex with a 17-year old girl, in a Friday interview tried to minimize the charges against his friend, Greenberg, by suggesting he is in jail for defamation. Greenberg was facing dozens of charges, but currently the list stands at just six felonies after he entered a plea deal on Monday. Legal experts expect he is handing federal prosecutors evidence against the Florida GOP Congressman.

Meanwhile, federal authorities investigating Gaetz "have secured the cooperation of the congressman's ex-girlfriend," CNN reports.

"The woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer, is seen as a critical witness, as she has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017, a period of time that has emerged as a key window of scrutiny for investigators. She can also help investigators understand the relevance of hundreds of transactions they have obtained records of, including those involving alleged payments for sex, the sources said." CNN adds, citing people familiar with the matter.

"I'm not too worried about Joel Greenberg," Gaetz told Newsmax [see video below]. "Joel Greenberg is literally sitting in jail right now because he originally accused someone who was innocent – of having had a relationship with a minor."

Gaetz is accused of having had a relationship with a minor.

"That wasn't true, it was just a false thing that Joel Greenberg had said, and that's landed him in quite a bit of trouble."

Greenberg is not in jail for defamation.

"But I'm not focused on scandal. I'm focused on socialism," Gaetz said in what appeared to be another road-tested soundbite. "That's why I'm here in Arizona with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene."

Hardly a state facing "socialism," Arizona narrowly broke for Joe Biden but it has a Republican governor and GOP majorities in both chambers of its state legislature.

"We're going to have about a thousand patriots behind us supporting the Arizona audit and our ongoing efforts for election integrity."

Watch:

Gaetz Crony Kept Committing Crimes Well After He Learned Feds Were Investigating Him

ORLANDO, Fla. — On an April morning in 2019, federal agents walked into the Tax Collector’s Office in Lake Mary and handed an employee a grand jury subpoena that revealed for the first time that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating whether Joel Greenberg had used public money to benefit himself. That initial request for records related to Greenberg’s spending and investments was revealed in a plea agreement Greenberg struck with prosecutors which resulted in him pleading guilty to six federal crimes this week and agreeing to cooperate against other potential targets. The deal showe...

Gaetz Crony Pleads Guilty In Federal Court After Striking Cooperation Deal

ORLANDO, Florida – Joel Greenberg, the disgraced former Seminole County tax collector who resigned in June, appeared in federal court Monday morning and pleaded guilty to six felony crimes — including sex trafficking of a child — after striking a deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Greenberg was led into court by U.S. Marshals and appeared in a dark colored jail jumpsuit, shackled at the wrists and ankles and flanked by two attorneys. He spoke succinctly during the hearing, responding with one or two words to questions from a magistrate judge. In all, Greenberg faced 33 federal charges. But pro...

New Bombshell: Campaign Funds Paid For Gaetz Party With Escorts And Cocaine

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Florida man Rep. Matt Gaetz is in deep doo doo, as the scientists say. He is facing allegations that he paid for sexual liaisons with a variety of women, some of whom were potentially underage. He may have also broken the law having young women cross state lines for money and sex. His buddy Joel Greenberg seems to have cut a plea deal after admitting to all kinds of bad and illegal deeds, and claims to have basically acted as a pimp for Mr. Gaetz. The story is lurid, filled with the kind of stuff that MAGA types like Gaetz have been projecting onto the entire Democratic Party establishment for about a decade now.

Now, The Daily Beast has released an explosive report detailing Rep. Gaetz's experience during a 2019 Orlando, Florida, GOP fundraiser. According to the report, Gaetz's old buddy Greenberg will identify a paid escort, named Megan Zalonka, as one of 15 women Gaetz paid for sex during his fun times with Greenberg, and Zalonka's story includes sex and drugs with Mr. Gaetz. Ms. Zalonka also had a scandal-level shady taxpayer-funded gig with Greenberg.

The Daily Beast report alleges that Zalonka made many thousands of dollars partying with Gaetz and Greenberg at the fundraiser, and it is not just Greenberg who can give testimony about the debauched times the two men spent.

On Oct. 26, 2019, Gaetz attended the "Trump Defender Gala" fundraiser as the featured speaker at the Westgate Lake Resort in Orlando. Two witnesses present recalled friends reconvening at Gaetz's hotel room for an after-party, where Zalonka prepared lines of cocaine on the bathroom counter. One of those witnesses distinctly remembers Zalonka pulling the drugs out of her makeup bag, rolling a bill of cash, and joining Gaetz in snorting the cocaine.

The Daily Beast says that hotel stay was written off by Gaetz as a campaign expense. I thought it was Hillary Clinton that was selling pizzas or something? I guess it was the "Trump Defenders" instead. Gaetz's folks are mum on this story and Zalonka has hired an attorney, who told the news outlet that she "is not speaking to any media outlet." The Zalonka connection goes back to why Greenberg resigned in disgrace from his position as Florida tax collector. According to The Daily Beast:

Zalonka, who is an amateur fashion model and the communications director for the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association, received $4,000 on Venmo from Greenberg during his first year in office in 2017—mostly in $500 installments. And Greenberg, who is married, listed various explanations for why he paid Zalonka. In the memo fields of his Venmo payments, he paid her $500 for "Stuff," another $500 for "Other stuff" [sic], and $1,000 for "Pool." On a single day in November, he paid her $500 for "Food" and another $500 for "Appetizers."

After that, Zalonka seems to have begun a more lucrative business relationship with Greenberg, where she had a government job and was paid but never seemed to work—and no one knew what "services" she provided. Two sources told The Daily Beast that Gaetz and Zalonka had an ongoing financial arrangement that included sex amongst other things, though the newspaper could not confirm that the two had slept together.

It's starting to become clear why Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy are trying to stay far away from Matt Gaetz right now. Gaetz will say he didn't do it, but considering that Matt Gaetz has made a career of never saying anything that is actually true, it's going to be hard for him to be believed.

Gaetz Crony Pleads To Sex Trafficking, Implicates ‘Other Men’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Joel Greenberg, a long-time associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor and other federal crimes and agreed to cooperate with U.S. Department of Justice investigators — which, according to New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt, makes the former Seminole County, Florida tax collector "a potential key witness" if Gaetz is charged with any crimes.

The DOJ has been investigating allegations that Gaetz was sexually involved with a 17-year-old girl — an allegation that the far-right Republican congressman, a passionate supporter of former President Donald Trump, has flatly denied. Gaetz has even fundraised off the investigation, claiming that he is being persecuted by "the Deep State" for standing up for Trump's agenda. In one of his fundraising e-mails, Gaetz sounded very Trump-like when he wrote, "I will not back down from the Fake News hacks that want to destroy me and America-First patriots like you. I am more determined than ever to shut down this HOAX, and I am glad to have President Trump on my side."

Schmidt reports that Greenberg "did not implicate Mr. Gaetz by name in papers filed by prosecutors in Federal District Court in Orlando" but "admitted that he and unidentified others had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and that he had provided her with drugs." In the court papers, Greenberg admitted that he "introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts."

The Times has reported that according to sources, Gaetz asked Trump for a blanket pardon during his final weeks in the White House, but the outgoing president declined.

In the court papers filed on Friday, Greenberg, according to Schmidt, admitted to other crimes as well — including identify theft, stealing money from local taxpayers in Florida and defrauding the federal government.

Greenberg has been a target of DOJ investigators since 2020, and that investigation became a bigger story this year when Gaetz's name appeared in connection with it in news reports.

Schmidt explains, "As the inquiry ensnared Mr. Gaetz and other influential Florida Republicans and burst into national news in recent weeks, reports have portrayed them as a freewheeling group that frequented parties, sometimes took the mood-altering drug ecstasy and, in some cases, paid women they had sex with. Mr. Gaetz has denied paying for sex and said that his generosity toward former girlfriends was being misconstrued."

The Times reporter notes that Greenberg is "facing 12 years in prison" but could receive a shorter sentence "if his cooperation results in the prosecutions of others."

"Prosecutors revealed in the documents that they have evidence they say corroborates Mr. Greenberg's admissions — including a series of communications and transactions Mr. Greenberg had with the girl, and a list of dates of their sexual encounters," Schmidt notes. "The inclusion of that material appeared designed to bolster the credibility of Mr. Greenberg as a witness whose truthfulness would likely be challenged by anyone who is charged based on anything he tells prosecutors."