Matt Gaetz trip to Bahamas with marijuana entrepreneur under investigation, report claims

Federal investigators are reportedly probing whether Congressman Matt Gaetz travelled to the Bahamas as part of a broader inquiry into allegations of sex trafficking, according to CBS News.

The outlet reports that the Florida congressman travelled with an Orlando hand surgeon who is also co-founder and chair of the Medical Marijuana Physicians Association. Dr Jason Pirozzolo is alleged to have paid for travel expenses, accommodations and escorts during the trip in late 2018 or early 2019, according to the network, citing multiple sources familiar with the case.

Investigators are reportedly determining whether the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines, and whether Mr Gaetz was accepting paid sex in exchange for access or legislative favours, according to CBS.

The Justice Department did not return The Independent’s request for comment. Dr Pirozzolo also declined to comment to CBS News.

Mr Gaetz has adamantly denied allegations surrounding a federal investigation into whether he engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, part of a larger investigation tied to Florida politician Joel Greenberg, who was indicted in 2020 on several charges, including stalking a political opponent, using a state database to create fake IDs, and sex trafficking a minor. He faces a trial in June.

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The congressman has claimed that his family has been targeted as part of an “organised criminal extortion” scheme involving a former Justice Department official in an effort to relieve federal pressure on Mr Gaetz by sending millions of dollars to fund an effort to locate Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent kidnapped in Iran.

On Tuesday, The New York Times alleged that Mr Gaetz sought “blanket preemptive pardons” from former president Donald Trump, who issued a statement on Wednesday denying that the congressman had asked him.

In a statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for Mr Gaetz said that the congressman has “never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with an underage girl”.

“What began with blaring headlines about ‘sex trafficking’ has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults,” according to the statement. “Yesterday, we even learned of some nonsense ‘pardon’ story that turned out to be false, and today it’s just more euphemism. It’s interesting to watch the Washington wheels grinding so hard every time one of their falsehoods gets knocked down.”

Dr Pirozzolo made two contributions of $1,000 each to Mr Gaetz’s campaign in March 2016 and May 2017, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

He touted legislation sponsored by Mr Gaetz to expand medical marijuana research during a podcast in 2018.

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