Why Was Matt Gaetz Venmoing an Accused Sex Trafficker?

Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

Here’s a quick recap of the last ten days for Florida representative Matt Gaetz: First, it was revealed that the Justice Department was investigating him for possibly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and trafficking her over state lines. Then, that investigation was connected to another federal probe into one of Gaetz’s political allies, a former Seminole County tax collector named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last year on sex-trafficking charges regarding the same teenager. And yesterday, the news broke that Greenberg is expected to plead guilty, leading many to assume he will cooperate with the authorities and possibly give them information about his friend, Gaetz, who has denied “paying women for sex.”

Somehow, in the last 24 hours, even more damning information has come out connecting Gaetz to Greenberg: a trail of payments so public, made on an app you and I and everyone we know probably uses, they are almost too dumb to believe.

Per the Daily Beast, up until very recently, interactions between Greenberg and Gaetz could be viewed on Gaetz’s public Venmo page, which listed not just payments between the two men but very dubious descriptions of those payments. Though the Venmo page disappeared this week, the Beast saw Gaetz’s before it was removed, showing that late at night in May 2018, he paid Greenberg $900 over two Venmo payments; then, the next morning, more records show Greenberg made Venmo payments to three women totaling $900. In one of the memo fields for his payments to Greenberg, Gaetz reportedly used a nickname for one of the recipients, who had turned 18 less than six months before. And in Greenberg’s Venmo payments to the three young women, in the memo field, he put “Tuition,” “School,” and “School.”

The Daily Beast also requested public records of Greenberg’s taxpayer-funded credit card, which show dozens of “unaccounted for” charges, including cash advances and hotel rooms — demonstrating even further just how brazen Greenberg’s illicit behavior was. But something about the use of Venmo here between the two officials is the most shocking. Even I hide my Venmo interactions from the public, lest, for example, my mother, who follows me on there, asks how I can afford to be going out to dinner so much. Everyone knows that one of the best ways to stalk an ex or the ex of an ex is on their Venmo, if they are silly enough to leave it public. That Greenberg and Gaetz apparently thought paying three young women for “School” and “Tuition” on Venmo wouldn’t raise any eyebrows is nuts.

“I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” Greenberg’s attorney said yesterday during a press conference. I’m sure he’s feeling worse now!

Why Was Matt Gaetz Venmoing an Accused Sex Trafficker?