In May 2018, on the day after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) sent $900 to his associate, former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, via Venmo, Greenberg used the app to send three young women payments amounting to $900, The Daily Beast reports.
Gaetz paid Greenberg over two transactions. The first had "Test" written in the memo field, and the second said "hit up ____," with the blank being the nickname for one of the recipients. (Because the young woman had only recently turned 18 at the time of the transaction, The Daily Beast is not naming her.) In the Venmo payments he made to the young women, Greenberg wrote that the money was for "Tuition," "School," and "School."
Last week, The New York Times reported that Gaetz, 38, was the subject of a Justice Department inquiry into whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel out of state with him. This investigation reportedly stemmed from a probe into Greenberg, who has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor, bribery, and stalking. Court documents say Greenberg was "engaged in 'sugar daddy' relationships," and the Times has reported investigators believe Gaetz paid for sex with several women he met through Greenberg.
Gaetz's list of Venmo transactions had been public before this week, The Daily Beast reports, and someone sent the outlet partial Venmo records for Greenberg. The records show that both men are connected on Venmo to the young woman The Daily Beast is not naming, as well as a woman Greenberg paid with taxpayer funds using a government-issued credit card, The Daily Beast reports.
During a hearing on Thursday, both Greenberg's attorney and prosecutors said it is likely Greenberg will strike a plea deal, an indication that he will probably cooperate with prosecutors. After the hearing, Greenberg's attorney told reporters, "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today." Gaetz has confirmed the investigation is taking place, but denies having sex with a 17-year-old girl or paying for sex. He has not been charged with any crimes. Read more at The Daily Beast.