By Gurman Sidhu
Republican Congressman from Florida, Matt Gaetz, is under investigation by the Justice Department for having sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl and allegedly paying her to travel with him. The encounter he had with the 17-year old took place two years ago. This investigation looks into the allegations that claim Gaetz paid or offered gifts to underage girls in exchange for sex. The Justice Department has opened this investigation based on a possible violation of federal sex trafficking laws.
Several federal sex trafficking laws prohibit the travel of a minor, across state lines to have sex in exchange for money and items of value. Gaetz, who is 38 years old, traveling with a 17-year-old girl, having intercourse with her and giving her rewards may be considered a direct violation of these federal statutes.
The allegation also claims that Florida politician, Joel Greenburg, a close political ally of Gaetz, was also participating in this criminal activity. They are said to have recruited multiple women online to have sex with them in exchange for cash and gifts. These women were asked to meet them at hotels. The investigation further includes that some of these encounters included the presence of the drug ecstasy.
Joel Greenburg worked as a tax collector in Seminole County, Florida. Greenburg was indicted in June of 2020 on over a dozen different charges. Some of the more extensive charges included aggravated identity theft, sex trafficking of a minor and federal stalking charges. He also gave financial assistance to more than one of these minors. He is now in jail for disobeying the terms of his bail and is awaiting trial.
The investigation thus far has not been able to stick any of the charges against Congressman Gaetz. The extent to which he has participated in any criminal activity still remains unclear. The Department of Justice and US Attorney’s Office have refused to make an official statement about the investigation which suggests that they are still looking into the allegations.
While other branches of the US Government are working to investigate Congressman Matt Gaetz, he faces extreme backlash from his colleagues in the US Congress. Some of his female colleagues on The Hill and in the Florida House of Representatives have said they refer to him as “Creepy Gaetz.” They have also stated that he has tried to show them pictures and videos of naked women that he has been intimate with, and tends to brag about his sexual encounters.
During his interview with Fox News, Gaetz responded to the questions that not only his colleagues but hundreds of Americans have also been asking. While speaking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News last week, Gaetz argued, “It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie. The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman, and that is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and say that is false.”
Gaetz has yet to be charged or indicted for any of the allegations made against him. However, the Department of Justice is actively investigating whether or not Gaetz traveled across state lines with a 17-year-old, paid her in exchange for sex, and engaged in sex trafficking. Many on the hill and across the nation are calling for him to resign, but Gaetz has made it clear that he will not be resigning or giving up his congressional seat.
Gurman Sidhu is a first-year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major at UC Davis from Union City, California.