As part of their probe into Rep. Matt Gaetz, federal investigators are looking into his travel to the Bahamas with women and specifically whether those women were paid to travel for sex which could violate federal law, a law enforcement official and another person familiar with the matter told NBC News.
Investigators are also looking into whether Gaetz and one of his associates used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex, those sources say.
Gaetz, R-Florida, has not been charged with any crime, and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
There has been no response to a request for comment sent to his representatives.
In a statement to CBS News, which first reported that investigators were looking into a trip to the Bahamas, a spokesperson for Gaetz said the congressman denies the insinuations.
“Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with an underage girl. What began with blaring headlines about ‘sex trafficking’ has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults,” a spokesperson from Gaetz’s office told CBS News.
Last week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department was investigating Gaetz whether had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, citing three people briefed on the matter.
Law enforcement sources have confirmed to NBC News that the Gaetz investigation originated from an inquiry into someone else, Joel Micah Greenberg, who’s awaiting trial on trafficking, stalking and identity fraud charges. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty.
The night that The Times reported its story, Gaetz said that “no part of the allegations against me are true” and claimed his family has been victims of a $25 million extortion plot involving threats to smear his name.
Gaetz, in an op-ed published Monday, said he is not a criminal and will not be resigning.
“Since I’m taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old,” Gaetz wrote in the Washington Examiner.
He called the allegations bizarre and said the claims were made after he “decided to take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway.”