It looks like Rep. Matt Gaetz may be in more trouble than previously reported.
The New York Times is revealing new details about the Department of Justice’s investigation in a report published Thursday night:
WASHINGTON — A Justice Department investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, according to people close to the investigation and text messages and payment receipts reviewed by The New York Times.
Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes, initially met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel and allowances, according to three people with knowledge of the encounters. Mr. Greenberg introduced the women to Mr. Gaetz, who also had sex with them, the people said.
One of the women who had sex with both men also agreed to have sex with an unidentified associate of theirs in Florida Republican politics, according to a person familiar with the arrangement. Mr. Greenberg had initially contacted her online and introduced her to Mr. Gaetz, the person said.
Mr. Gaetz denied ever paying a woman for sex.
The newspaper, citing four people familiar with the investigation, said the DOJ is also examining whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received anything of material value.
The Times said it had reviewed receipts from Cash App and Apple Pay that show payments from Gaetz and Greenberg to one of the women, and a payment from Greenberg to a second women.
“The women told their friends that the payments were for sex with the two men, according to two people familiar with the conversations,” the Times reported..
The report added: “Some of the men and women took ecstasy, an illegal mood-alerting drug, before having sex, including Mr. Gaetz, two people familiar with the encounters said.”
Gaetz’s office issued a statement that said the Florida congressman “has never paid for sex” and “refutes all the disgusting allegations completely.”
“Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life,” it said.
Gaetz could face charges of trafficking the women under “force, fraud or coercion” if prosecutors can prove that the payments to the women were for sex. He could face a 10-year mandatory prison sentence if proven that he provided someone under 18 with anything of value in exchange for sex.
Gaetz came under the DOJ’s scrutiny as a result of an inquiry by the U.S. attorney’s office in Central Florida that secured an indictment against Greenberg on sex trafficking charges.