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Politics Gaetz campaign paying former Epstein lawyer amid sex trafficking investigation

07:09  16 july  2021
07:09  16 july  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

What It’s Like to Take Down the World’s Most Notorious Sexual Predator

  What It’s Like to Take Down the World’s Most Notorious Sexual Predator “Woman Passes Gas in Store, Then Pulls Knife.” It was 2018, and as she watched her newspaper’s monitor broadcasting the site’s leading stories, Miami Herald scribe Julie K. Brown seemed to be getting her clock cleaned by a goofy crime story. She didn’t realize the impact her work was about to make. That morning, the Herald had published Brown’s three-part investigation into wealthy sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s lenient plea deal—brokered in 2008 in secret from his victims, who didn’t learn of the agreement until it was too late.

Matt Gaetz investigated for possible sex trafficking of girl, 17, report says — he claims extortion. The Department of Justice is investigating whether Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travels with him, The New York Times reported. Gaetz , 38, a conservative firebrand and close ally of former President Donald Trump, denied the reported allegations against him.

Greenberg’s lawyer and prosecutors said in court that the former Florida county tax collector is expected to make a deal in his case, in which prosecutors accuse him of paying an underage girl for sex and tapping the state’s motor vehicle database for information on people he had relationships A federal probe into whether Gaetz (R-Fla.) had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him across state lines reportedly grew out of the investigation into Greenberg. Greenberg’s plea deal has not been finalized, but authorities expect it to be in the upcoming weeks, according to the report.

As Rep. Matt Gaetz faces an ongoing federal investigation into alleged sex trafficking, a new campaign finance report reveals how the Florida congressman is spending the funds that he's raised amid the scandal.

Since news broke in late March that the Justice Department was investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, the congressman has launched a nationwide rally tour and has fundraised off the allegations.

From March 30 through the end of June, his campaign has brought in roughly $1.4 million, a drop from $1.8 million that the campaign took in over the first three months of this year, the filing shows. But the campaign's spending has jumped since the probe was made public, with $1.9 million in expenditures from April through June, compared to $1.3 million in the first three months of this year, according to the filing.

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Investigators are looking at whether Gaetz and his associates tried to secure government jobs for some of the women, the people said. They are also scrutinizing Gaetz ’s connections to the medical marijuana sector, including whether Pirozzolo and others sought to influence legislation Gaetz The investigation includes legislation from 2018, when Gaetz was in Congress, and earlier work in the Legislature, according to one of the people. Pressure on the congressman could build in the coming weeks as Joel Greenberg, a Gaetz associate who has been accused of trafficking a minor for sex

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein faces sex trafficking and conspiracy charges over allegations that he paid girls as young as 14 for sex . Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking on July 8. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 45 years if convicted. “The alleged behavior shocks the conscience,” said Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during a press conference on July 8 in which he detailed the allegations against Epstein .

Matt Gaetz standing in front of a crowd © Octavio Jones/Reuters

As the investigation has ramped up, Gaetz has beefed up his legal spending, with his campaign paying $50,000 to law firms in June alone.

MORE: As Gaetz investigation ramps up, feds mount sweeping probe into Central Florida political scene: Sources

Half of that went to the law office of New York criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich, who lists on his website "notable clients" that include convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Mexican drug lord El Chapo, former mobster John A. "Junior" Gotti, and "alleged propagandist in Nazi Hungary" Ferenc Koreh.

Fernich did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The other $25,000 went to the Baltimore office of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, according to the filing, though it doesn't say who specifically from the firm was representing the campaign.

Gaetz campaign hired law firm used by Jeffrey Epstein, campaign filing shows

  Gaetz campaign hired law firm used by Jeffrey Epstein, campaign filing shows Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R) campaign in June paid $25,000 to a law firm used by Jeffrey Epstein, the campaign's Federal Election Commission's filing shows.Gaetz's campaign gave the money to the law office of Marc Fernich, a criminal defense attorney in Manhattan, The Washington Post and other outlets reported.Fernich previously represented Epstein, a convicted sex offender, and refers to him as a "notable client."Gaetz is currently underGaetz's campaign gave the money to the law office of Marc Fernich, a criminal defense attorney in Manhattan, The Washington Post and other outlets reported.

Gaetz ’s former girlfriend has played a bit role in the unfolding public drama — she is the woman who sent the lawmaker a nude video of her performing a hula hoop dance that he showed to other members of Congress. But two of her friends, who declined to be identified publicly because of the sensational While the alleged sex - trafficking victim is key to the case against Greenberg and the allegations against Gaetz , the lawmaker’s ex-girlfriend could play a pivotal role in the investigation of the trip, as well as other related controversies. Gaetz was criticized for allegedly showing the hula hoop video to

Rep Matt Gaetz allegedly asked President Donald Trump for pre-emptive pardons for himself and his congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, just months before he was revealed to be under federal investigation for sex trafficking . Two sources with knowledge of the situation told the New York The Times noted that it is unclear whether Gaetz or the White House knew about the DOJ investigation at the time that he approached Trump, as the sources said he did not make any mention of allegations when making the request. Some Trump associates have now begun to speculate that

The latest legal expenditures bring the Gaetz campaign's legal spending to $135,000 in just the past year. Between 2016 and 2019, the campaign had spent less than $10,000 on legal bills.

Gaetz has also continued to pay political operative Roger Stone amid the ongoing investigation. The congressman first paid Drake Ventures, an LLC connected to Stone, $5,000 on March 24 of this year for "strategic campaign consulting," and since then has made three subsequent payments totaling $20,000.

Matt Gaetz standing in front of a crowd: Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during the Save America rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Sarasota, Fla., July 3, 2021. © Octavio Jones/Reuters Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during the Save America rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Sarasota, Fla., July 3, 2021.

In April, the Department of Justice sued Stone and his wife for using Drake Ventures to avoid reporting taxable income to the federal government and for failing to pay $2 million in taxes from 2007, 2011 and 2018. Stone has denied any wrongdoing and said that the lawsuit is "politically motivated."

A California hotel booted an 'America First' event when it found out Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene were the featured speakers

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6 GOP lawmakers invite Britney Spears to testify before Congress amid conservatorship battle MORE (R-Fla.) is scheduled to speak Friday at a conservative summit at a Trump-owned Miami resort as the GOP congressman faces an ongoing Justice Department probe into allegations of sex with a minor and child sex trafficking . Gaetz has also denied having sex with a minor, and in an op-ed this week claimed that the allegations are part of a smear campaign against him by his political opponents.

Investigators are examining whether Gaetz paid for the 17-year-old to travel across state lines in 2019, which could be a violation of sex - trafficking laws . Gaetz denies breaking any laws . McGee, now a lawyer in Florida, denies the allegations and told The Daily Beast that it was "a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to indicted for sex trafficking underage girls." On Tuesday, the same day that news of the allegations against Gaetz broke, Axios reported that Gaetz was considering leaving politics and hoped to secure a spot on Newsmax, a conservative TV network.

Former President Donald Trump commuted Stone's prison sentence in December 2020 after Stone was charged and convicted on a seven-count indictment of obstructing justice, witness tampering and multiple counts of lying to Congress in the course of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. ABC News previously reported that Gaetz sought a blanket presidential pardon from the Trump White House, which was ultimately not granted. A spokesperson for Gaetz, who has denied any wrongdoing, said at the time that the congressman's request was conflated with a general push for pardons.

MORE: Gaetz ally expected to plead guilty, cooperate with investigators in sex-trafficking probe

"Our FEC filings speak for themselves," a Gaetz spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News when asked about the new financial filing. "Despite an endless stream of lies from the media, Congressman Gaetz continues to be among the most prodigious fundraisers in Congress and is the only Republican who doesn't accept donations from federal lobbyists or PACs. He thanks his tens of thousands of donors and promises to always fight for them."

California event center drops plans to host Gaetz, Greene's 'America First' tour

  California event center drops plans to host Gaetz, Greene's 'America First' tour A California event center has dropped plans to host GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) for an event on their "America First Tour" after finding out the lawmakers were the speakers. Javad Mirtavoosi, general manager of Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center, told the Orange County Register on Friday that when the July 17 event was first booked, the center expected it to be a "gathering." "As soon as we found out whoJavad Mirtavoosi, general manager of Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center, told the Orange County Register on Friday that when the July 17 event was first booked, the center expected it to be a "gathering.

During the three months after news broke of the scandal, the Gaetz campaign's biggest payments -- more than $825,000 for advertising and strategic consulting -- went to a firm named Logan Circle Group, a newly-hired PR group led by Harlin Hill, the filing showed.

Another big chunk went to fundraising consulting, with $120,000 being paid to a new vendor named Trishul LLC and just under $100,000 paid to Red Rock Strategies, according to the filing.

After three California venues refused to host Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene's 'America First' event, the duo held a 'protest' instead

  After three California venues refused to host Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene's 'America First' event, the duo held a 'protest' instead In a statement to Insider, Greene blamed the cancellations on the left, saying they were "forcing" business owners to cancel the events.The Republican lawmakers were in Southern California for their "America First" tour stop. The Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center, a hotel in Laguna Hills, California, was initially slated to host the event, but canceled a week before when they realized who the speakers were, saying they "just want to stay clear of that.

The Gaetz campaign also spent a total of $800 at the Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., for "meal expenses" and a "parking fee" in April and May, the campaign reported in its filing.

MORE: House Ethics Committee opens investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz

Multiple sources have confirmed to ABC News that the DOJ's ongoing investigation involves Gaetz and former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, who in June pled guilty to crimes including sex trafficking a minor, and agreed to help prosecutors in the probe.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He has repeatedly denied ever paying for sex or having sex with a minor, and has at times joked about the allegations.

"Today is my birthday [...] I already know how CNN is gonna report it: 'Matt Gaetz has wild party surrounded by beautiful women in The Villages,'" the congressman said at a rally at a Florida retirement community in early May.

Matt Gaetz associate, who is cooperating with federal investigators, asks for sentencing delay .
Joel Greenberg, the former Florida tax official, pleaded guilty in May to six counts tied to wire fraud, identity theft, bribery, and the sex trafficking of a minor.Joel Greenberg's attorney told the judge overseeing his case on Tuesday in a court filing that “pursuant to his plea agreement with the Government, Mr. Greenberg has been cooperating with the Government and has participated in a series of proffers.

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