Gaetz compares allegations against him to earmarks: ‘Everybody knows that that’s the corruption’
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Saturday likened the sexual misconduct allegations against him to legislative earmarks one day after his associate pleaded guilty to six charges in a sex trafficking investigation and signaled that he will cooperate with authorities.
At the Ohio Political Summit, a gathering sponsored by the Strongsville GOP in suburban Cleveland, Gaetz said he is “being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors,” according to NBC News.
“Yet Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors, through earmarks, and everybody knows that that’s the corruption,” he added, according to NBC News.
House Republicans and Democrats and Senate Democrats have agreed to bring back earmarks this year.
Under the new earmark reforms established by House Democrats, all requests must be publicly posted for review, with lawmakers providing justification and certifying they don’t have any personal financial stake.
Though Senate Republicans kept a symbolic prohibition on earmarks within the conference, the ban isn’t binding. Senate Democrats are instituting similar limits as their colleagues in the House.
Gaetz’s remarks come after court documents filed on Friday showed that Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector and associate of the congressman, said he will help investigators as they continue their criminal sex trafficking investigation.
The investigation is reportedly looking into whether Gaetz and Greenberg utilized the internet to find women they could pay for sex and whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a minor he paid to travel with him, according to The New York Times.
If federal prosecutors are pleased with Greenberg’s cooperation in the probe, they will recommend a lesser sentence than what they would typically propose under federal sentencing guidelines.
A sex trafficking charge he pleaded guilty to carries a sentencing range of 10 years to life in prison.
Greenberg’s hearing is scheduled for Monday.
In Friday’s filing, Greenberg admitted to paying for commercial sex acts and being involved in relationships where he paid women for sex but concealed the purchase as “school-related expenses.”
Friday’s court documents, however, do not mention Gaetz, and he has not been charged with a crime. The congressman has repeatedly denied the allegations.
In a statement on Friday following the development involving Greenberg, Gaetz spokesperson Harlan Hill said, “Congressman Gaetz doesn’t seem to be named nor referenced in Mr. Greenberg’s plea. Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex.”
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