House investigators probing Rep. Matt Gaetz contact ex-associate Joel Greenberg: Sources

The DOJ last year declined to bring charges against Gaetz following its probe.

January 24, 2024, 7:36 PM

The House Ethics Committee investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz has reached out to Joel Greenberg, a one-time close friend of Gaetz who was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges, sources told ABC News.

The probe, which was reopened last summer, continues to ramp up, as the committee in recent weeks has contacted multiple new witnesses as part of its ongoing investigation into the Florida congressman, sources said.

Among the witnesses contacted is the woman who allegedly had sex with the congressman as a minor, sources familiar with the committee's work told ABC News. That development was first reported by CNN.

Sources told ABC News that in recent days, in addition to focusing on possible lobbying violations by Gaetz, the Ethics Committee has reached out to witnesses who were questioned as part of the Justice Department's sex trafficking investigation into the Florida congressman.

The House probe into Gaetz's conduct was reopened last July after the Ethics Committee initially deferred its investigation at the request of the Justice Department, which conducted its own years-long probe that concluded without charging Gaetz in 2023.

Responding to the new developments, Gaetz told ABC News in a statement, "It's great to see the Ethics Committee has interests beyond trading stocks. They seem to be quite the unusual whales."

Members of the Ethics Committee declined to comment to ABC News regarding the probe.

Rep. Matt Gaetz greets supporters at the New Hampshire campaign headquarters of former President Donald Trump in Manchester, NH, Jan. 21, 2024.
Faith Ninivaggi/Reuters

Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector who sources say agreed to cooperate in the DOJ's probe into Gaetz, was sentenced in December 2022 after pleading guilty to crimes ranging from wire fraud to sex trafficking a minor.

Greenberg reached a deal with investigators in May 2021 in which he pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a minor and introducing her to other "adult men" who also had sex with her when she was underage. He also agreed to provide "substantial assistance" to prosecutors as part of their ongoing investigation into Gaetz and others, according to sources familiar with the arrangement.

ABC News previously reported that as part of his cooperation, Greenberg had provided investigators with years of Venmo and Cash App transactions and thousands of photos and videos, as well as access to personal social media accounts.

Fritz Scheller, an attorney for Greenberg, told ABC News that he would not "confirm or deny" being in contact with the House Ethics Committee regarding their reopened probe .

Gaetz, when the probe was reopened in July, blasted the Ethic Committee for "trying to weaponize their process."

"I was cleared by the Department of Justice and the FBI, who looked into my life for years," Gaetz said at the time. "Now, I believe that the House Ethics Committee is trying to weaponize their process against me because every once in a while up here I'm a rabble-rouser and I don't go along to get along. And right now, I'm forcing this body to have deal with our debt and our spending."

"I think all the days in Congress, there are probably in the seven years I've been in Congress, there have only been tens of days when I haven't been under one form of ethics investigation or another," Gaetz said. "I've never been found to have violated any ethical laws. I won't be found to have violated them in this matter either."

The news comes weeks after Rep. George Santos was voted out of Congress following the release of a scathing report by the Ethics Committee that alleged the New York congressman used the prestige of political office to defraud victims of tens of thousands of dollars.

Since the Santos probe concluded, the Ethics Committee has refocused its efforts toward Gaetz, sources said, with the committee expecting to schedule more interviews and receive documents related to the probe in the coming weeks.

Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing. The Justice Department, following a yearslong sex-trafficking probe into the Florida congressman, informed Gaetz last February that it would not bring charges against him.

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