In two nightly Venmo transactions in May 2018, Rep. Matt Gaetz sent his friend, accused sex trafficker Joel Greenberg, $ 900. The next morning, within eight minutes, Greenberg sent three young women with different sums of money using the same app. In total, the transactions amounted to $ 900.
The memo field for the first transaction from Gaetz to Greenberg was titled “Test”. In the second, the Florida GOP Congressman wrote “hit up ___”. But instead of a space, Gaetz wrote a nickname for one of the recipients. (The Daily Beast doesn’t share the nickname because the teenager turned 18 less than six months ago.) Then, when Greenberg made his Venmo payments to these three young women, he described the money as “tuition,” “school “,” And school. “
The Daily Beast investigated these records as a scandal rooted in a criminal case against Greenberg that is devouring Gaetz.
Greenberg – the former tax collector for Seminole County – has now been charged in 33 cases nationwide, including crimes against sex trafficking with a 17-year-old. Court documents state that Greenberg was “involved in” sugar daddy “relationships”. And the New York Times says a Justice Department investigation is investigating Gaetz’s involvement in the cash-for-sex ring.
Gaetz and Greenberg are both connected through Venmo to this then 18-year-old woman who, according to a friend of the girl, now works in the porn industry. And on Thursday, Greenberg’s attorney and prosecutor said during a trial that they expect Greenberg to make a plea deal, which likely means he plans to work with investigators.
That could potentially be disastrous for Gaetz as investigators investigate the connections between these two men. And a particularly damaging link is their financial transactions.
This week, while reporting on that story, Gaetz’s once public list of Venmo transactions disappeared. Greenberg’s Venmo account is currently not open to the public. But The Daily Beast was able to obtain partial records of Greenberg’s previous online transactions through a source.
Greenberg and Gaetz are also linked to at least one other woman on Venmo who paid Greenberg in taxpayers’ money using a government-issued credit card. Seminole County’s auditors have classified hundreds of these payments as “challenged or disregarded” and found suspicious or unjustified expenses totaling more than $ 300,000. The Daily Beast was able to obtain this credit card information through a public record request.
“Nobody has any idea what they did. Zero, ”said Daniel J. O’Keefe, an accountant who conducted a forensic exam for the county. “The arrogance of these guys. They just felt above the law. I’ve never seen it so bad. “
O’Keefe was particularly confused about weekend expenses, hotels, unspecified high dollar consultancy fees, and cash advances that Greenberg had made for himself and others. The Daily Beast compared Greenberg’s credit card bills and Venmo transactions to Gaetz’s expenses and travel documents generated from campaign financial reports, Instagram posts, and Venmo, and found that the two schedules and contact circles overlap in a few key places.
Gaetz and Greenberg share Venmo connections with at least two women who have received payments from Greenberg and who both have professional relationships with one another.
In 2018, Greenberg paid another woman, Gaetz’s mutual friend, several thousand dollars using his taxpayer-backed Wells Fargo Visa card issued by Seminole County. This is evident from the county financial reports received from The Daily Beast. The auditors pointed out the transactions, saying they “don’t know what it was for” despite a contract and invoice from the company.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the Justice Department was investigating Gaetz for allegedly paying for a 17-year-old girl to travel across state lines with him and having sex – an act against them Would violate federal child trafficking laws. The investigation reportedly dates back to last summer when it emerged from the ongoing Greenberg probe. According to the Times, the two men reportedly had sex with and traded with the same 17-year-old girl.
The three-time Republican has acknowledged the existence of the investigation but denies the allegations. In a March 31 text message, he told The Daily Beast, “The last time I had sexual relations with a seventeen-year-old, I was seventeen.” And in a statement from the conservative Washington Examiner last weekend, Gaetz claimed he had “never paid women for sex”.
Gaetz was not accused of any crime, and Gaetz’s convention bureau declined to comment directly on the story.
Instead, a representative from an outside PR firm, the Logan Circle Group, responded with the following statement from Gaetz: “The rumors, gossip, and self-serving misstatements of others will be dealt with by my legal team in due course.”
Logan Circle’s Erin Elmore – a pro-Trump expert and former The Apprentice nominee – added that a lawyer would “closely monitor your reporting.”
The email also featured another Logan Circle Group employee: Harlan Hill, who was banned from Fox News after calling current Vice President Kamala Harris an “unbearable lying bitch.”
Greenberg’s defense attorney, Fritz Scheller, did not immediately respond to a request for comment either. But during a press conference following a hearing on the case, Scheller offered that the Florida Congressman was unlikely to welcome the news that Greenberg was making a plea deal.
“I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very well today,” said Scheller.
– Updated with comment from Gaetz.