Rep. Matt Gaetz’s problems continue to spiral from bad to worse, as a CBS News report revealed last night that federal investigators are looking into a trip the Florida congressman made to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019. Gaetz was traveling with an Orlando-based marijuana entrepreneur, hand surgeon and donor named Jason Pirozzolo, who allegedly paid for the travel expenses, accommodations, and female escorts, multiple sources told CBS News.
In a rambling op-ed in the right-leaning Washington Examiner over the weekend, Gaetz wrote that he “never, ever paid women for sex.” But if Pirozzolo picked up the travel expenses to bring escorts across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with the congressman, that would violate federal laws.
While Gaetz often rails against the “D.C. swamp,” his relationship with Pirozzolo springs straight from the Florida swamp. For several years, Pirozzolo lobbied Gaetz to push legislation for marijuana research. According to Federal Elections Committee records, Pirozzolo made multiple donations to Florida Republicans between 2010 and 2018, including two donations of $1,000 each to Matt Gaetz’s campaign in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz is in the process of working on legislation up in Washington, D.C., that will help facilitate research on the nationwide level,” Pirozzolo said on a July 2018 episode of the Ganjapreneur podcast. Pirozzolo invited Gaetz to speak at the American Medical Marijuana Physician Association conference in 2017 and 2018.
Gaetz has been a steady supporter of medical cannabis research. He introduced the Medical Cannabis Research Act in April 2018 and again in January 2019 but the bill never moved to a vote on the House floor. Last December, Gaetz was the sole Republican co-sponsor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge lower-level federal marijuana offenses.
Favors between Gaetz and Pirozzolo appears to have gone both ways. Gaetz pushed Pirozzolo for consideration as Florida surgeon general, but instead Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Pirozzolo to the board of Greater Orlando Airport Authority, which runs Orlando International Airport. Matt Gaetz provided a reference.
Gaetz is also under federal investigation for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and traveling with her, according to revelations in the New York Times last week. The Republican congressman from Florida’s Panhandle has confirmed that he is under investigation but denies all of the allegations.
Gaetz told Tucker Carlson on Fox News last week, “People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case.” But the congressman’s personal and work-related travel records are not publicly accessible, so they do not reveal information that would exonerate him.
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