A federal probe into Rep. Matt Gaetz is expanding, according to a report.
Though the investigation initially began looking into questions of alleged sex trafficking, authorities are now looking into issues of broader public corruption, the Associated Press reported, citing sources familiar with the investigation.
The questions now concern whether the Florida Republican allowed his friends to improperly influence and profit off of his past legislation around marijuana liberalization.
At issue are Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, a friend and campaign donor, and Halsey Beshears, a former colleague of Gaetz in the Florida state house, the wire service reported.
Gaetz was already being probed by the feds on whether he paid an underage woman for sex and enticed her to meet for sex across state lines, a potential violation of federal sex trafficking laws. Probers are also looking into whether he attempted to subsequently hook up women he had been intimate with, with government jobs, AP reported.
Back in 2014 Gaetz, while a state lawmaker, was behind a bill in the Florida legislature that would allow for legal medicinal marijuana. The bill also earned the support of Gaetz’s powerful father Don, then serving as the President of the Florida state Senate. Don Gaetz said he had been heavily lobbied on the issue by his son.
Both Pirozzolo and Beshears were on the floor when the bill passed and both later went on to profit handsomely from it, according to the report.
A nursery owned by Beshears’ family was awarded five contracts to begin initial cultivation of the newly legalized plant. Pirozzolo, meanwhile, took advantage of an amendment to the bill requiring future dispensaries to employ a doctor. Just days after the bill was passed, Pirozzolo started a consulting shop to connect doctors to marijuana entrepreneurs. He later founded the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association, a trade group.
In 2018, Gaetz, then a member of Congress, introduced another marijuana-related bill, allegedly favorable to the association’s policy positions.
Gaetz, Beshears and Pirozzolo all went on their tropical jaunt to The Bahamas together just five months later, AP reported.
Neither Gaetz nor his two companions have been charged with a crime and the Congressman has maintained his innocence, even as the investigation rolls on behind the scenes.
“Rep. Matt Gaetz is a long-time policy expert on marijuana liberalization and passed legislation on the matter as far back as 2013. Rep. Gaetz has never been influenced by outside groups to take a stance on any given position,” a spokesman for the congressman told The Post.
With Post wires