Matt Gaetz Venmo Receipts Totally Legal, Totally Cool
"Hit up ____" he wrote in the memo field for one of two payments to his buddy Joel Greenberg one night in May of 2018, using the name of a woman who had just turned 18 a few months before. Why would a sitting congressman in his thirties even know a teenage girl, much less send her money? Unclear! But the Daily Beast reports that the transactions totaled $900, the exact amount the former Seminole County tax collector disbursed the next day among three women in payments labeled "Tuition," "School," and "School."
Is there a more millennial way to go than by public Venmo history? Next we'll find out he's got an avocado toast fetish. In any event, Gaetz finally remembered to make his transactions private this week. So, good job, little fella!
Yesterday Joel Greenberg's lawyer marched into court with the prosecutor and said they were close to negotiating a plea agreement on the eleventy-seven counts his client is charged with. Greenberg, who appears to have spent a couple of years as Gaetz's wingman, may have a lot to say about his buddy, who is reportedly under investigation for paying very young women for sex. There are also allegations that the men had sex with "____" before she turned 18, and may have transported her across state lines to do it, which would be sex trafficking.
But even if they didn't, and even if you think prostitution among consenting adults should be legal, the fact remains that it is not. It's still wildly illegal and inappropriate — not to mention predatory — for a sitting congressman to pay for sex with a teenager. And it's particularly odious coming from Matt Gaetz, who held himself out as an avatar of moral and legal rectitude and made political hay out of attacking Hunter Biden for his own personal failings.
But the Weenerpeener News cycle does not stop. The New York Times put out a story last night chock full of details on the weird, incestuous world of Florida Republican politics. Remember that trip to the Bahamas Gaetz took in "late 2018 or early 2019" with Dr. Marijuana Handjob and possible "female escorts"? The Times reports that the plane was stopped by immigration authorities on its return to Fort Lauderdale, whereupon federal investigators questioned one of the women on board and seized her phone. In addition to the politically connected Dr. Handjob (okay, fine, his real name is Jason Pirozzolo), former Republican state legislator Halsey Beshears was also on the plane. Beshears worked in Governor Ron DeSantis's administration until he resigned in January for "health reasons."
The Times reports that Gaetz is also being scrutinized for his role in backing a third party candidate to help his friend Jason T. Brodeur, who was running for state Senate in 2020. And it's got a gross racial angle, too — because of course it does.
Mr. Gaetz, a Republican who represents the Florida Panhandle, and an ally in Florida politics, the lobbyist Chris Dorworth, discussed the possibility of putting a third-party candidate on the ballot to help Mr. Brodeur, according to two people told of the conversation.
Though recruiting a third-party candidate to run for office and funnel votes from another candidate is generally legal, the practice of secretly paying so-called ghost candidates, who are paid to run on a third-party ticket, is typically considered a violation of campaign finance laws.
In Mr. Brodeur's race, a third candidate did appear on the ballot: Jestine Iannotti. Though she had no party affiliation, raised little money until the final months of the race and did little campaigning, fliers depicting her as a Democrat were sent to voters. One featured a stock photo of a Black woman and said, "Jestine Iannotti will always be there for us." Ms. Iannotti is white.
Meanwhile, Gaetz has lost another staffer and gained some high-powered defense attorneys, who will presumably tell him to SHUT THE HELL UP ALREADY.
New: @RepMattGaetz has hired white collar criminal defense lawyers Marc Mukasey & Isabelle Kirshner to lead his leg… https://t.co/GZjgFTrBjO— Garrett Haake (@Garrett Haake) 1617977649.0
His publicists, however, are ... less prestigious. Politico reports that multiple reporters have received nastygrams from Logan Circle Group, an outfit helmed by former "Apprentice" contestant Erin Elmore and conservative wanker Harlan Hill. And, yes, wanker is the correct term.
Remember that dipshit who threatened to go to Philly to STOP THE COUNT?
I’m going to Philly tomorrow with a team. This is war.— HARLAN Z. HILL 🇺🇸 (@HARLAN Z. HILL 🇺🇸) 1604554446.0
We assume he still looks like this, although he got banned from Fox in November after he called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris an "insufferable lying bitch."
.@Harlan: "The Democrat s are more invested in the president's failure than they are in leading and legislating on… https://t.co/YJBI6nPTqK— FOX Business (@FOX Business) 1517589936.0
"We are seeking an immediate print and on-air statement of retraction. Failure to comply with this request may result in litigation," Elmore emailed Politico in a fury over a story about Trump keeping his distance from Gaetz.
"The rumors, gossip and self-serving misstatements of others will be addressed in due course by my legal team," she blustered to the Beast, adding that lawyers would be "closely monitoring your coverage."
Which probably stopped the reporters right in their tracks — for exactly five seconds of eye rolling and making the jerkoff motion.
Odds that another Putzgate story breaks before close of business?
ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.