Witness tells House Ethics Committee that Matt Gaetz paid her for sex: Sources

Written by on June 19, 2024

Rep. Matt Gaetz looks on during a news conference about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) transparency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Nov. 30, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) — In recent weeks, House Ethics Committee investigators have conducted a string of interviews behind closed doors with numerous women who were witnesses in the years-long Justice Department sex trafficking investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz, multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work tell ABC News.

Investigators have interviewed at least half a dozen women who allegedly attended parties where the Florida Congressman was also present and who were paid by Joel Greenberg, Gaetz’s one-time close friend. Greenberg was sentenced in 2022 to 11 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges including sex trafficking a minor and introducing the minor to other “adult men,” sources tell ABC News.

In the interviews, which have previously not been reported, some witnesses have been shown Venmo payments they allegedly received from Gaetz and asked if those payments were for sexual activities, sources said. Some of the witnesses have been subpoenaed by the committee while others have agreed to cooperate, according to the sources.

One woman, who ABC News is not identifying, told the committee that a payment from Gaetz was for sex, while others have said they were paid to attend parties that Gaetz also attended and that featured drugs and sex, multiple sources told ABC News.

Gaetz has long denied all of the allegations, including paying for sex, and previously dismissed them by claiming “someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.” The Justice Department informed Gaetz in 2023 that it was declining to bring charges against him after its years-long investigation.

The House Ethics Committee declined to comment. Florida attorney Joel Leppard of Leppard Law confirmed his client was cooperating with the committee, but declined to comment further.

The Committee subpoenaed the Justice Department earlier this year for records related to its probe into the Florida congressman. Still, the department has resisted turning over the information, sources said.

However, the committee has obtained Gaetz’s Venmo records after issuing the company a subpoena, sources tell ABC News. During the DOJ investigation into Gaetz, public reporting, including by The Daily Beast, largely focused on Venmo records from Greenberg, who according to his plea agreement used his account to “pay for commercial sex acts” with women he also introduced to others. The committee obtaining Gaetz’s records, which ABC News has not seen, could help provide Congressional investigators with a roadmap for payments the Congressman may have made while he was friends with Greenberg.

On Tuesday, the House Ethics Committee provided an update on its investigation into Gaetz, detailing in a new statement on Tuesday that after speaking with over a dozen witnesses, issuing 25 subpoenas, and reviewing thousands of documents, the bipartisan panel will continue to review allegations including that the Florida congressman “engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use” and that he “sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct.”

The committee also detailed that it will no longer pursue allegations that Gaetz “may have shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe or improper gratuity.”

When reached for comment, Gaetz’s communications director pointed ABC News to the Congressman’s social media post on Monday calling the House Ethics Committee “Soviet” and stating that “every investigation into me ends the same way: my exoneration.”

Greenberg is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to multiple federal crimes, including the sex trafficking of a minor whom he admitted to introducing to other “adult men” who also had sex with her when she was underage. Justice Department investigators spent years looking into whether Gaetz was one of the men Greenberg introduced the minor to before declining to pursue charges against Gaetz in 2023.

Greenberg, who offered the Justice Department significant cooperation in its own probe, is cooperating with the House Ethics Committee probe into the Florida congressman, sources familiar with the committee’s work tell ABC News.

At his sentencing in late 2022, Judge Gregory Persnell called Greenberg’s degree of cooperation “more than I’ve seen in 22 years.” Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in late 2022 after pleading guilty to crimes including wire fraud, stalking, and sex trafficking a minor.

Investigators have also asked multiple witnesses about a July 2017 party that ABC News first reported on. The committee obtained a sworn statement from a woman who said she attended the party in Florida that Gaetz also attended, sources said. Multiple witnesses have also told the committee that they saw Gaetz engage in illicit drug use at parties, sources said.

The committee first launched its probe into Gaetz in 2021 before putting it on hold as the Justice Department conducted its own investigation.

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