Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is reportedly facing a federal investigation into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Department of Justice is probing “whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him.”
As the paper notes, “A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.”
The investigation was apparently launched during the waning days of former President Donald Trump’s administration while William Barr was the attorney general.
The paper says the probe is an off-shoot of an investigation into Joel Greenberg, a local Florida official, and ally of Gaetz, who was indicted on sex trafficking charges last summer.
Gaetz has not been charged in the investigation.
He confirmed to Axios that he is under federal investigation but claimed the allegations are “unclear.”
“The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false,” he told Axios. “They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away.”
Gaetz told the Axios that he was told, “I was not a target but a subject of an investigation regarding sexual conduct with women.”
When asked what he thought the investigation was about, Gaetz said, “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.”
Gaetz, 38, is now engaged.
News of the investigation comes the same day that Axios reported he is “seriously considering not seeking re-election” and “becoming a media personality.”
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