Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend reportedly on Wednesday appeared before a federal grand jury investigating him for sex crimes.
According to NBC News, his ex, whose name was withheld to protect her privacy, has been in talks with federal prosecutors for months to avoid prosecution for obstruction of justice in return for testifying in an investigation into whether he paid for sex with a 17-year-old.
NBC also reported that prosecutors were investigating three separate crimes: Sex trafficking; violating the Mann Act, which bans taking prostitutes across state lines; and obstructing justice.
Investigators are reportedly examining a phone call between Gaetz, his ex and another woman – who recorded the call and was cooperating with federal investigators – to establish whether it amounted to obstructing justice.
Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and has denied all the accusations.
Instead, he has dismissed the investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’
Isabelle Kirshner, one of his lawyers, told DailyMail.com on Wednesday: ‘We have seen no credible basis for a charge against Congressman Gaetz.
‘We remain steadfast in our commitment to challenge any allegations with the facts and law.’
Reports say Rep Matt Gaetz is being investigated for three distinct crimes: Sex trafficking a 17-year-old; violating the Mann Act, which prohibits taking prostitutes across state lines; and obstructing justice
Previous reporting revealed that investigators believe Gaetz’s former girlfriend is key to unraveling transaction records that allegedly reveal payments for sex.
She is a former Capitol Hill staffer who has known the congressman since 2017.
Her attorney Tim Jansen declined to comment on case when he was approached by a reporter as he entered the federal courthouse in Orlando with his client.
Their arrival marked the latest twist in a long running investigation.
The Florida Republican was reportedly in an open relationship with his ex in 2017 and 2018, when she accompanied him to the Bahamas in a trip that is now under scrutiny by investigators.
The existence of the investigation first became public last March, when The New York Times reported that investigators were examining if Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old in 2019 and paid for her to travel with him. The inquiry had been underway for several months before it was reported on.
Gaetz is in the spotlight thanks to his friendship with a former Florida tax collector, Joel Greenberg, described as his ‘wingman’, who last year pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud and sexual offenses.
Greenberg told investigators that Gaetz and at least two other men had sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl.
He pleaded guilty to identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official and sex trafficking of a minor.
Previous reports said the investigation into Gaetz stalled as investigators tried to win the cooperation of his ex-girlfriend.
In April last year, Politico reported that the former girlfriend had told friends she was worried that a 17-year-old who is key to the federal government’s sex-crimes investigation tried to get her to incriminate him on a recorded call.
Gaetz was accompanied in the Bahamas by two other Florida Republican political players – Jason Pirozzolo, a former Orlando-area aviation authority member, who has acted as a fundraiser for Governor Ron DeSantis; and Halsey Beshears, a former state representative.