While Gaetz denies the allegations, reports indicate several individuals shared that Gaetz had a “sexual relationship” with a 17-year-old. Venmo receipts indicate that Gaetz paid for the minor to travel with him. Since multiple federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value, the Justice Department is investigating these reports. Gaetz’s former friend, Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to six criminal charges surrounding the same investigation. He has yet to be sentenced for his crimes.
Given the allegations against Gaetz and his overall stance on survivors’ rights, it's no shock that he voted against the bill. It’s also not the first time: In 2017, Gaetz made headlines for being the only representative to vote “no” on a different human trafficking bill.
At that time, he said he voted against the bill to avoid the creation of new federal entities, calling the legislation "mission creep" and an "expansion of the federal government.” It wasn’t until four years later that people started questioning his intent when The New York Times reported on the allegations and ongoing investigation of Gaetz being conducted by the Justice Department.
While details of the investigations against Gaetz have not been formally shared, some outlets have leaked what they know. According to The Washington Post, Gaetz set up dates with women in exchange for dinner or hotel stays; if proven that these amenities and money were exchanged for sex, these actions would be classified as illegal.
A year after the investigation into his actions was announced, the Gaetz sex scandal is once again trending because people are accusing him of opposing the bill on human trafficking due to personal interest.
Gaetz has been in hot water this week, and we’re here for it. He made headlines earlier this week for body-shaming teen activists during an anti-abortion conference in Florida. His comments not only gained national attention but prompted a response from a teen who later used her back-and-forth with Gaetz as a platform to fundraise for abortion rights. As a result, the teen activist Olivia Julianna was able to fundraise more than $200,000 for abortion rights.
On Monday, Mike Pence’s former Chief of Staff Marc Short took to criticizing Gaetz and called him out for his scumbag behavior. Short told CNN he'd be "surprised" if Gaetz will still be allowed to vote in 2024. "It's more likely he'll be in prison for child trafficking by 2024.”
"So, I'm not too worried what Matt Gaetz thinks," Short said in response to a question regarding his concerns over the Florida congressman, should Pence run for president.
While hating on Gaetz is justified and can go on forever—his history of ignorant actions is beyond measure—it is important also to acknowledge the other 19 individuals who voted no on such an important bill.
The full list of those who voted "no" includes:
- Brian Babin (TX)
- Andy Biggs (AZ)
- Lauren Boebert (CO)
- Mo Brooks (AL)
- Ken Buck (CO)
- Andrew S. Clyde (GA)
- Matt Gaetz (FL)
- Louie Gohmert (TX)
- Paul A. Gosar (AZ)
- Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA)
- Andy Harris (MD)
- Jody B. Hice (GA)
- Thomas Massie (KY)
- Tom McClintock (CA)
- Mary E. Miller (IL)
- Troy E. Nehls (TX)
- Ralph Norman (SC)
- Scott Perry (PA)
- Chip Roy (TX)
- Van Taylor (TX)
Of the group, Roy was the only one to speak at the debate. While he noted the issue was "critically important," he claimed he had not properly reviewed the bill and that "other factors at play, involving the floor and spending and other stuff" affected his decision. He added that he did not want his vote to be taken as "an indication of not supporting the purpose of the bill."
A spokesperson for Rep. Gaetz reached out with the following comment:
“The government’s failure to accurately and specifically define human trafficking allows this legislation to act as a backdoor loophole for illegal immigration and amnesty. The bill also costs over half a billion dollars to implement and gives more taxpayer money to overfunded, inefficient grant programs.”
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