A federal executive department employee was accused of helping criminal gangs force a Republican from Florida to give away large sums of money.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has accused a former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) worker of colluding with powerful criminal groups to extort tens of millions of dollars from him and his loved ones.
“Over the past several weeks, my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” he said on Twitter.
The remarks came after Gaetz, 38, was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
DOJ investigators are deciding whether the Republican breached any federal sex trafficking regulations when he was still single and allegedly paid for his unnamed companion’s airfare and accommodation expenses.
“No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation,” he said.
The congressman, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, suspects the matter was leaked to mainstream media to undermine the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) current investigation. Authorities have examined the case since the previous Trump administration’s final months, and its existence was only recently reported widely.
“We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter, and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals,” he said. “The planted leak to the FBI tonight was intended to thwart that investigation.”
He urged the department to fully cooperate with the FBI investigation and provide all available evidence to help prove exactly who tried to extort money from him.
“I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations,” he said.
Gaetz also dismissed at least one media report about his future career plans because it wrongly stated which congressional district he represents.
“This article [about me considering a job vacancy at Newsmax] identifies me as a ‘South Florida’ congressman, which I am obviously not,” he said on Twitter. “Perhaps that verifiably false reporting will cause people to question the accuracy of other claims made in this piece.”
The Hill speculated the probe was part of a broader investigation into Gaetz’s political ally and former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, who is charged with child sex trafficking and paying at least one female minor for adult services.
Gaetz was not charged with any wrongdoing at the time of publication, according to The Hill.
“I only know that it has to do with women,” he said according to The Hill. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”