Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) has called for fellow GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz (Fla.) to resign, citing a new report that alleges Venmo records show Gaetz paid a friend accused of sex trafficking who passed funds along to women — including an 18-year-old.
Gaetz himself is currently being investigated by the Department of Justice under claims of sex trafficking a 17-year-old, which reportedly sprang out of the same indicted friend whom he paid.
What are the details?
The Daily Beast reported Thursday that according Gaetz’s Venmo records — which used to be public — the lawmaker made “two late-night Venmo transactions in May 2018” to former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg totaling $900.
Greenberg has already “been federal indicted on 33 counts, including sex trafficking crimes involving a 17-year-old,” The Beast noted, adding that “Gaetz and Greenberg are both connected through Venmo to this then-18-year-old woman–who now works in the porn industry.”
According to the outlet, Greenberg passed along the payments to three women, including the 18-year-old, and labeled the transactions as being for “Tuition,” “School,” and “School.”
The New York Times reported last week that that DOJ is focused on Gaetz’s and Greenberg’s “involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments” from the men in exchange for drug-fueled hotel romps.
Gaetz has adamantly denied all the allegations against him, and wrote in an op-ed earlier this week that while he is “not a monk,” he’s “certainly not a criminal.”
Also on Thursday, Gaetz’s office sent out a statement from the women who work in the lawmaker’s congressional offices, which read that “at no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect,” adding that they “uniformly reject” the allegations against him “as false.”
The same day, The Times revealed the Gaetz lost another high level aide, reporting that his legislative director, Devin Murphy, “abruptly quit in recent days.” Gaetz lost his communications director, Luke Ball, last week.
But the purported records of transactions highlighted by The Daily Beast led Kinzinger to share the story online and become the first Republican to publicly call on Gaetz to leave office, tweeting, “Matt Gaetz needs to resign.”
Kinzinger was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for impeaching former President Donald Trump the second time around.
The only member of GOP leadership to vote for impeachment, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), was attacked by Gaetz over her vote. The Florida congressman then held a rally in Cheney’s native Wyoming to call for Republicans to boot her from office with a primary challenge.
Meanwhile, Trump issued a statement Wednesday refuting reports that Gaetz has asked him for a blanket pardon before he left office. He added that “It must also be remembered that he [Gaetz] has totally denied the accusations against him.”