Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is being investigated by the Department of Justice for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, The New York Times first reported Tuesday.
Investigators are also reportedly probing if Gaetz may have paid the girl to travel with him, violating sex trafficking laws.
Gatez forcefully denies the accusation as a smear job and has released this statement: Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.
We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals. The planted leak to the FBI tonight was intended to thwart that investigation. No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation.
I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.
Gatez also denied the allegations during an interview with Axios; “The allegations against me are as searing as they are false. I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know when I was a single guy.”
“I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I’ve dated. You know, I’ve paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner. I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not.”
Gatez said none of his relationships have been with anyone underage.
Axios says Gaetz provided them with screenshots of “text messages, emails and documents outlining the alleged extortion scheme, which he claimed was being run by a former DOJ employee.”