On Monday, The Daily Beast reported that a man Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) implicated in a supposed extortion scheme against his family to make a federal sex trafficking investigation go away admitted to a certain part of his story in a new interview — but denied that it was in any way an extortion scheme.
"Air Force veteran and 'research consultant' Bob Kent verified to Sirius Radio personality Michael Smerconish that he had approached Gaetz's deep-pocketed father, former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, last month seeking a $25 million loan," reported William Bredderman. "The funds would ransom the release of Robert Levinson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared in Iran more than a decade ago. Levinson's own family believes him to be dead, but Kent has insisted he has evidence he is alive and remains a hostage of the Islamic Republic, even though credible experts have dismissed his claims."
"Kent said that he was aware of the time that Gaetz might have 'legal issues,' and suggested that assisting in the mission would create 'good will' toward the congressman," said the report. However, Kent flatly denied that he went so far as extortion: "I never threatened the man — matter of fact, it was the opposite: I told him if he decides not to help us he'll never hear from me again. I can't help how it sounds."
Gaetz faces allegations that he paid to transport a 17-year-old girl over state lines for sex. Investigators are also reportedly looking into whether Gaetz paid prostitutes with drugs and campaign money.
He claims all of these allegations are false and concocted as part of the demand for $25 million from his father.