The DOJ is reportedly investigating if Matt Gaetz was illegally influenced to push pro-cannabis legislation

The DOJ is reportedly investigating if Matt Gaetz was illegally influenced to push pro-cannabis legislation
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) awaits the State of the Union address in the chamber of the House of Representatives on February 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Federal investigators are looking into whether Matt Gaetz was illegally influenced to support loosening cannabis regulations, CNN reported.
  • They're specifically probing whether a 2018 Bahamas trip he took with several women was part of the illicit effort.
  • The focus is part of a broader inquiry into whether Gaetz broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

Federal investigators are looking into whether a 2018 trip Rep. Matt Gaetz took to the Bahamas with several women was part of an illegal effort to influence his platform on cannabis regulations, CNN reported. Specifically, the report said, the feds are investigating if Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and cannabis entrepreneur who went on the trip with Gaetz, tried to improperly get Gaetz to push for pro-cannabis legislation.

CBS News first reported on the Justice Department's scrutiny of the Bahamas trip, and sources told the news outlet that Pirozzolo footed the bill for travel expenses, hotel accommodations, and female escorts on the alleged trip, and that investigators are examining whether the women were trafficked illegally across state lines to have sex with Gaetz.

The Justice Department has been investigating since last year over whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws and engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor. The investigation into him stems from a broader inquiry into the former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, a close associate of Gaetz's who was indicted on 33 felony counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. Greenberg previously pleaded not guilty.
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Both Gaetz and his father have confirmed the existence of the investigation. Greenberg, meanwhile, appears to be close to striking a plea deal with prosecutors, and The New York Times reported that he's been cooperating with investigators since last year.

Politico reported that the feds also obtained a search warrant and seized Gaetz's iPhone in December. The report said Gaetz changed his phone number last year and that investigators also seized his former girlfriend's phone in November.

Gaetz has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct and wrongdoing, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Last week, CNN reported that Gaetz was a fixture at parties that frequently involved drug use and sex and after which money sometimes changed hands.

Two women who attended several of the parties told the news outlet that they took place in Florida and often featured men who were active in local Republican politics. The first thing some women were told to do was put their phones away because the men didn't want the parties to be documented on social media or in photos. Partygoers would share drugs like ecstasy and cocaine, and "some had sex," the report said, adding that after some of the parties money was sent to some attendees. CNN said it had viewed digital receipts showing that Gaetz and Greenberg used payment apps "to send hundreds of dollars to at least one woman who attended the parties."
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The payments were said to have been made between 2018 and 2019, and a label for at least one of them said it was for travel expenses.

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