Matt Gaetz: Republican calls for congressman to step down as Venmo payments to women called into question

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Danielle Zoellner
·3 min read
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El congresista Matt Gaetz ha negado las acusaciones de conducta indebida con una niña de 17 años. (Getty Images)
El congresista Matt Gaetz ha negado las acusaciones de conducta indebida con una niña de 17 años. (Getty Images)

Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois has become the first Republican to call for Representative Matt Gaetz's resignation amid a probe by the Justice Department into sex trafficking allegations.

In a short tweet shared on Thursday, Mr Kinzinger wrote: "Matt Gaetz needs to resign."

The tweet included an article from The Daily Beast that reported the Florida Representative allegedly paid an accused sex trafficker $900 through Venmo in May 2018. Then the accused trafficker, identified as former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, sent that same amount to teenage girls.

Mr Greenberg was reportedly set to enter into a plea deal with the Justice Department, which could implicate Mr Gaetz. The former tax collector has been charged with 33 counts in federal court in Florida that include stalking, wire fraud, and sex trafficking a minor.

On Thursday, Mr Greenberg's lawyer, Fritz Scheller, and federal prosecutors told the judge that his client intended to strike a plea deal. Whether Mr Greenberg would cooperate in the investigation into Mr Gaetz remained unknown, but his lawyer hinted that could be part of the plea deal.

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"I'm sure Matt Gaetz isn't feeling very comfortable today," Mr Scheller said outside the courthouse after the hearing.

Mr Kinzinger has been a vocal critic of fellow members of the Republican Party in recent years, criticising politicians like President Donald Trump and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

His relationship with Mr Gaetz has also been contentious, and the moderate Republican previously revealed he had a long list of GOP members who he'd like to be challenged in upcoming elections.

“Oh, there's a huge list. ... I mean, look, all you have to do is see people like, of course, Marjorie Taylor Greene. You look at people like Matt Gaetz, who know better. I think neither of them believes the stuff they ascribe to, they just want fame," Mr Kinzinger told The Washington Post.

At the time, Mr Gaetz told his Republican colleague to "F***ing bring it."

No charges have been brought against Mr Gaetz by the Justice Department, and he has denied all allegations against him.

The New York Times first reported last week that federal prosecutors were investigating Mr Gaetz over a relationship he allegedly had with a 17-year-old girl, including accusations that he paid for her travel.

"Since I'm taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old," Mr Gaetz wrote in a Washington Examiner op-ed that was published on Wednesday.

He's also faced accusations he paid women to travel to the Bahamas to have sex, according to CBS News, accusations the representative has also denied.

A spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News following the allegations: "Rep Gaetz 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."

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