A federal investigation into Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) for allegedly violating sex trafficking laws has extended to Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, a Florida-based hand surgeon, medical cannabis advocate, and founder of The American Medical Marijuana Physician Association, CBS News reports.
Specifically, investigators are said to be looking into a Bahamas trip that Gaetz and Pirozzolo took in late 2018 or early 2019, during which Pirozzolo allegedly covered the costs of travel, accommodations, and female escorts. Investigators are working to determine whether the escorts were illegally brought across state or international lines for the purposes of sex. Investigators are also wondering whether Gaetz was accepting paid escorts in exchange for political favors, according to the report.
Pirozzolo has not responded to requests for comment and reportedly offered no comment to CBS News when confronted outside of his office on Wednesday.
In a now widely-reported 2018 appearance on the Ganjapreneur podcast — where we regularly interview people involved in various aspects of the cannabis industry — Pirozzolo said that Rep. Gaetz was working on legislation to “help facilitate [medical cannabis] research on the nationwide level,” and that his group had booked the congressman for a keynote at an event covering medical cannabis and the NFL.
According to FEC records reported by CBS, Pirozzolo has made $1,000 donations to Gaetz’s campaign on two occasions — once in 2016 and again in 2017. Gaetz, meanwhile, introduced federal legislation to expand medical cannabis research possibilities in 2018 and 2019, though both times the bill failed to reach the House floor for a vote.
Rep. Gaetz — who has been the subject of a national firestorm since the allegations came about, which include claims that he solicited sex from a 17-year-old — has denied everything. His office put forward this statement last week:
“Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex. Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.”
If investigators ultimately do determine that Pirozzolo’s actions were seeking some form of quid-pro-quo in terms of favorable federal policy action, “That’s a federal crime,” former prosecutor Arlo Devlin-Brown told CBS News.
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