Florida lobbyist may broaden Matt Gaetz sex trafficking scandal into public corruption case: NYT

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) could also be facing a broader corruption scandal, The New York Times reported Thursday.

"A former local official in Florida facing an array of federal charges in an inquiry that is also focused on Representative Matt Gaetz was expected to plead guilty, lawyers said in court on Thursday, an indication that the defendant is likely to cooperate as a key witness against Mr. Gaetz," the newspaper reported. "A cooperation agreement by Joel Greenberg, a former county tax collector north of Orlando, is almost certain to create legal difficulties for Mr. Gaetz, a prominent ally of former President Donald J. Trump. Investigators are said to be examining their involvement with women who were recruited online for sex and given cash payments, as well as whether Mr. Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old. Mr. Greenberg, who already faces one count of sex trafficking involving the girl, would be able to give prosecutors a firsthand account of their actions."

The investigation is widening.

"Mr. Greenberg's potential deal also comes as the F.B.I. has widened its investigation to include questions about a trip to the Bahamas that Mr. Gaetz took with Republican allies from Florida and women who were asked to provide sex for them, according to four people familiar with the inquiry," The Times reported.

The newspaper also reported a new detail on the direction the scandal may go.

"Investigators have also been told of a conversation where Mr. Gaetz and a prominent Florida lobbyist discussed arranging a sham candidate in a State Senate race last year to siphon votes from an ally's opponent, according to two people familiar with the investigation. They cautioned that that aspect of the inquiry, which could broaden it beyond sex trafficking, was in its early stages," the newspaper reported.