Federal investigators are reviewing a trip to the Bahamas that Matt Gaetz allegedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 as part of an investigation into whether the Florida representative violated sex trafficking laws, said multiple sources at CBS News.
Gaetz was on that trip with a marijuana contractor and hand surgeon named Jason Pirozzolo, who allegedly paid for travel, accommodation and female escorts, the sources said.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the escorts have been smuggled through state or international lines for the purpose of having sex with the congressman.
“Traveling across state borders is what creates a federal hook for a lawsuit,” Arlo Devlin-Brown, former attorney and partner of Covington & Burling, said in a report aired on the “CBS Evening News with Norah O ‘ Donnell “. “It does not matter [Gaetz] personally paid them as long as he knows someone is doing that. “
The Justice Department declined to comment. Pirozollo did not respond to repeated attempts to contact him and declined to comment on his relationship with Gaetz and whether he had paid for escorts for him when CBS News asked him on Wednesday outside his office in Orlando.
In a statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for Gaetz’s office said, “Gaetz’s rep never paid for sex and never had sex with a minor. Which started with headlines about “sex trafficking” turned into a general fishing exercise on vacations and consensual relationships with adults. Yesterday we even learned an absurd story of “forgiveness” that turned out to be wrong, and today it’s just more understatement. their lies are overturned. “
Investigators also want to know if Gaetz accepted paid escorts in exchange for political access or legislative favors, the sources said.
In a July 2018 podcast, Pirozzolo told Ganjapreneur.com that Gaetz was working to introduce federal legislation that would boost medical research into cannabis.
“In fact, Congressman Matt Gaetz is working on legislation in Washington, DC that will help facilitate research at the national level. And we should see a lot of benefits,” Pirozzolo said in the podcast. . “We have members of Congress currently dealing with this federal legislation.”
Gaetz introduced the medical cannabis research law in April 2018 and again in January 2019, although it was never put to a vote.
“If there is any evidence of a quid pro quo that the congressman received benefits in exchange for his sponsorship of legislation of interest to the donor, it is a federal crime,” said Devlin-Brown.
Pirozzolo is the co-founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Association of Medical Marijuana Physicians (AMMPA), and Gaetz has been a speaker at two of the organization’s conferences. The first took place in October 2017 when Gaetz was joined by Trump ally Roger Stone. According to the Central Florida Post, the conference was immediately followed by a fundraiser for Gaetz’s congressional campaign. The second took place in May 2018 at the group’s “NFL and Medical Cannabis Conference” in Miami.
FEC records reviewed by CBS News show that Pirozzolo made two separate donations of $ 1,000 each to Gaetz’s campaign arm, “Friends of Matt Gaetz,” in March 2016 and May 2017.