Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who’s below federal investigation over allegations he paid a minor in trade for sexual favors, stated Saturday the allegations about him are corresponding to lawmakers who connect earmarks to payments in an effort to profit their constituents or particular pursuits.
Gaetz’s feedback making an attempt to downplay the seriousness of the kid intercourse allegations had been made on the Ohio Political Summit in Strongsville, Ohio, the place he and different right-wing figures spoke earlier than an viewers pledging their loyalty to former President Donald Trump and repeating baseless claims about fraud within the 2020 presidential election. As particulars of the Gaetz allegations have been printed in latest weeks, the lawmaker ― a Trump supporter ― has tried to deflect blame and accountability very like Trump did whereas in workplace.
“I’m being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors,” Gaetz stated Saturday afternoon on the Ohio Political Summit. “Yet, Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors, through earmarks, and everybody knows that that’s the corruption.”
Earmarks are, in actual fact, authorized, and they’re used very often. Contrary to Gaetz’s comparability, sexual misconduct with a minor wouldn’t merely be thought-about a “naughty favor” however against the law punishable by, probably, a long time in jail.
Gaetz’s remarks got here simply in the future after his shut affiliate, a former Florida tax collector named Joel Greenberg, agreed to plead responsible to 6 federal expenses and agreed to cooperate with investigators. Greenberg reportedly confronted 33 counts in federal court docket, and one of many expenses to which he confessed was “sex trafficking of a child.” He struck a cope with prosecutors for a lowered variety of expenses contingent on his cooperation.
Gaetz claims he has “never paid for sex,” however a Friday report from the Daily Beast says Greenberg will establish particular escorts the lawmaker paid for intercourse, including once after a pro-Trump event, when he wrote off a hotel stay as a campaign expense.
Saturday’s Ohio Summit was one other de facto pro-Trump occasion. Multiple Republicans who’ve often criticized the previous president, together with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, skipped the occasion completely as a result of they knew they’d not be welcomed by the gang of Trump loyalists.
Gaetz is simply the newest in a variety of individuals linked to Trump who, like the former president himself, face allegations they had been concerned in inappropriate conduct towards minors. Other figures dealing with allegations embody deceased and indicted financier Jeffrey Epstein, indicted Epstein affiliate Ghislaine Maxwell, and former Trump adviser George Nader, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year for child sex charges.
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