The newspaper reported that Gaetz and his friend, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last year on federal sex trafficking charges, recruited women online for sex and sent them money via Cash App and Apple Pay. Although Times reporters reviewed text messages related to the encounters as well as the payment receipts, the newspaper said some payments were made via cash from hotel ATMs in Florida.
Some of the people involved in the encounters, including Gaetz, would take the drug ecstasy before sex, the Times reported.
The Times broke the story earlier this week that Gaetz was under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her to cross state lines, which would violate federal sex trafficking laws.
Gaetz denied the allegations, telling Axios that any gifts to women were just because he was “generous as a partner.” He again denied the accusations ― and said there was no 17-year-old ― during a Fox News appearance earlier this week that host Tucker Carlson called “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”
Gaetz also claimed that he was the victim of an extortion plot. One insider said that such an investigation would not necessarily exonerate Gaetz.
“You can both be the victim of a crime and a criminal yourself,” former Department of Justice spokesperson Matthew Miller said on MSNBC.