When ABC News reported Wednesday that the House Ethics Committee had acquired text messages between a young woman involved in the sex trafficking investigation and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a spokesperson for Gaetz told ABC that the congressman “knows nothing about the woman you are referring to.”

That seems extraordinarily unlikely.

The Daily Beast can now report that this woman told prosecutors in 2021 that she had sex with Gaetz at a drug-fueled party she was paid to attend, according to the woman’s attorney.

Matt Gaetz privately told colleagues that his real motivation for Kevin McCarthy’s ouster was an ethics investigation

This attorney told The Daily Beast on Thursday that the woman did, in fact, receive payments in connection with multiple sex parties with people in Gaetz’s circle. Her attorney said that, in response to a subpoena, she testified about her experiences to U.S. prosecutors investigating Gaetz. She and she turned over text messages, photographs and other evidence to the Justice Department as part of its child sex trafficking investigation against the Florida congressman, the lawyer said.

The Daily Beast has obtained some of those messages and photographs, which match the documents described by ABC News.

While the lawyer said he has not yet been contacted by House investigators, as ABC reported, the House Ethics Committee is now reviewing this evidence as part of its investigation into whether Gaetz paid for sex with women and with a minor adolescent. In fact, the Ethics Committee met Thursday afternoon behind closed doors to discuss the Gaetz case, which also involves allegations of public corruption, solicitation of prostitution, habitual use of hard drugs, impermissible bribes or gifts, financing violations campaigns and exhibition of nude photographs. sexual couples on the House floor.

The woman’s lawyer also told The Daily Beast that when it became clear that Gaetz was under investigation in 2021, another male party attendee, an associate of Gaetz, contacted her and pressured her to see if I was talking to someone about the congressman or the party. She felt this meeting was an attempt to intimidate her into not describing any of the events involving Gaetz, the attorney said.

The woman, whose name The Daily Beast is not revealing, was over 21 at the time of the encounters, the lawyer said, noting that she emphasized to prosecutors that the sex was consensual.

“She told them that she and many girls were provided with all kinds of controlled substances at these parties,” the lawyer said, confirming several reports about the meetings. The excessive use of drugs and alcohol was an obstacle for investigators, he said, as he confused his recollection of the events.

“The availability of large amounts of alcohol and controlled substances gave rise to a lack of control of the hormonal imperative,” this lawyer continued, “which inspired people to engage in intimate behaviors that may or may not have been because they were financially remunerated.” . “

This woman appears in Venmo transactions that The Daily Beast previously reported on. Between March and July 2017, this woman received nearly $2,500 in multiple payments from Gaetz’s then-best friend, locally elected tax collector Joel Greenberg. The descriptions Greenberg entered for her payments included “travelling,” “being cool,” “things” and the misspelled name of another of Greenberg’s associates.

Explosive letter: Gaetz paid for sex with a minor, says Wingman

Text messages now in the hands of congressional investigators show Gaetz proposing to the woman on a private group flight to the Florida Keys in May 2017, where they would be joined by three women and another man.

“Hey, any interest in flying on a private plane to the Keys May 19-21?” Gaetz wrote in a message, adding that he would be traveling with “2 guys, 4 girls. A very high quality adventure group.”

The woman initially agreed, to which Gaetz responded, “Fantastic.”

“As with all time you spend with me, it will be fun and peaceful,” Gaetz wrote. He then asked her if she had a passport and she replied yes.

The woman ultimately refused to make the trip, her lawyer confirmed. She does not appear in Venmo transactions at the time, although two other women do, including one who received a $500 payment described as “Cuba.”

(A person with knowledge of the events told The Daily Beast that Gaetz privately boasted about taking a trip to Cuba around that time.)

However, the woman invited to the Florida Keys received other payments from Greenberg in the months before and after the trip. For a $500 charge to Greenberg in July 2017, he entered a policewoman emoji, “👮,” in the memo line. (That same weekend, Gaetz and Greenberg each shared a selfie of themselves at dinner with Roger Stone in Miami).

Although the woman appears to have ultimately turned down the trip to the Florida Keys, ABC reported that she posed for a selfie with Gaetz on May 19, their scheduled departure day. That photo, obtained by The Daily Beast, was taken at 10:53 p.m. in Winter Garden, Florida, according to the photo’s metadata. It shows the attention-grabbing conservative in a T-shirt emblazoned with a quote from former Planned Parenthood vice president Mary Lasker: “If you think research is expensive, try disease.”

A selfie of Rep. Matt Gaetz and a woman.

Retrieved by The Daily Beast.

(The Daily Beast has edited this photo to protect the woman’s identity.)

The woman’s attorney told The Daily Beast that her decision to come forward was a difficult and emotionally draining experience. And the lawyer pointed to the meeting with Gaetz’s partner as proof that those pressures were not all purely internal.

At one point, the lawyer said, this person close to Gaetz berated his client for information about what she could say to anyone investigating Gaetz, and she felt the clear intent was to pressure her to keep her mouth shut.

This Gaetz associate asked to meet the woman for lunch in the spring of 2021, the lawyer said. However, the situation so disturbed the lawyer that he sent a colleague to accompany him and supervise the meeting secretly.

“This associate was there asking him over and over again what he had said, demanding that he tell him,” the lawyer said. The lawyer reported that the woman felt intimidated but she did not give in.

Last year, prosecutors announced they would decline to file charges against Gaetz, while refusing to publicly offer an explanation. That decision, almost exactly a year ago, sparked frustration and outrage among key witnesses in the case, including women who had come forward to provide intimate and detailed accounts of their interactions, according to interviews with attorneys and witnesses in the matter.

“The fact that nothing came of it has surprised her, since she, along with everyone else, had been the center of such an intense investigation,” the woman’s lawyer said. “For them to go through all that and then for the target of the investigation to only get a wink and a nod has created for some of them a loss of faith in the system.”

Not long after prosecutors postponed their investigation, the Ethics Committee reopened its own investigation, which it began in 2021 but quickly suspended out of deference to the Justice Department. The committee has since contacted several key witnesses, including the former 17-year-old at the center of the sex trafficking allegations, Greenberg, and an ex-girlfriend of Gaetz, according to news reports and sources familiar with the events. .

House ethics investigation into Matt Gaetz focuses on sex trafficking

The Ethics investigation appears to have unsettled Gaetz. Last month, The Daily Beast reported that he privately told colleagues that the restarted investigation was the reason he launched his scorched-earth campaign to unseat then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Months of infighting destroyed key loyalties within the House GOP, eroding trust and sowing enmity among members, fueling a series of embarrassing headlines. Republicans have not yet recovered from the damage.

Gaetz’s close associate Greenberg reached a deal with prosecutors in May 2021 and pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking, fraud and a host of other federal crimes. In her plea agreement, Greenberg admitted that he had also connected the former 17-year-old to other unnamed “adult men” who had sexual relations with her while he was still a minor. After several offers and postponements, Greenberg was finally sentenced in December 2022, to 11 years in prison.

In a confession letter Greenberg wrote in 2020 as part of his quest for a pardon from then-President Donald Trump, Greenberg wrote that Gaetz also paid to have sex with the 17-year-old, as The Daily Beast previously reported. In his letter, Greenberg noted the exact date he accessed a DMV database to learn that the teen in question was a minor.

“I immediately called the congressman and warned him to stay away from this person and informed him that he was a minor,” Greenberg wrote. “This revelation shocked and disturbed him in equal measure.”

But that new information apparently didn’t scare Gaetz or Greenberg away from the teen. The Daily Beast previously reported on a Venmo payment from Gaetz to Greenberg about eight months later, where Gaetz asked his friend to “hit up” the teen. She had turned 18 just five months before that Venmo transaction, and Gaetz was 36 at the time, twice her age.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Gaetz repeated the statement to ABC: “Rep. “Gaetz knows nothing about the woman you are referring to.”

When The Daily Beast provided the name of the woman in question, the spokesperson simply did not respond.

Reese Gorman and José Pagliery contributed to this report.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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By Sam