The future does not look good for Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
With credible accusations of the sex trafficking of a minor — backed up by poorly considered Venmo receipts — being lodged against him and his Republican colleagues not exactly rushing to defend him, the Florida lawmaker has few friends to rely on at this point in his career.
Luckily for Gaetz, however, he still has his well-connected family in his court.
The congressman’s father — a former Florida state senator named Don Gaetz, but now popularly called “Papa Gaetz” — is reportedly calling in every political favor he can muster in order to defend his son from the allegations that could land him a lengthy prison term, according to POLITICO.
Described as “a powerful and hard-nosed negotiator who lorded over politics in the Panhandle for a generation,” the elder Mr. Gaetz continues to wield a commanding level of influence in Florida through his position as chairman of the board of a non-profit corporation tasked with distributing tens of millions of dollars given to the state after the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe.
The younger Gaetz’s entire political career was launched with the help of his Republican multi-millionaire businessman father and it seems like the elder Gaetz is not about to let it all get flushed down the toilet without a fight.
“Don has a lot of power and friends in Florida politics,” one Florida political veteran said anonymously to avoid alienating the former state senator. “There are a lot of people who owe him favors. They are repaying those favors by staying silent about his son.”
Others suggested that, besides the calling in of favors, some old-fashioned political intimidation may come into play when “Papa Gaetz” needs to protect “Baby Gaetz,” as Florida political insiders refer to the embattled congressman.
“There’s obviously people who respect Don. There’s obviously people who feel like they have been hurt by him … Don’s very rough. If he’s against you, he’s against you in a very rough way,” said Ray Sansom, a former Florida Panhandle legislator who used to be close to the elder Gaetz.
Don Gaetz’s behind-the-scenes political lobbying on his son’s behalf has been only a small portion of the lengths he has gone to protect his son.
He also wore a wire in an FBI probe of a claimed extortion scheme targeting him and his son by a mysterious former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer who had gotten wind of the FBI investigation of Congressman Gaetz and allegedly offered to help make the problem go away for $25 million.
Fortunately for the nation and for the principles of justice, the investigation of Congressman Matt Gaetz has now progressed beyond the point where any amount of political pressure by his father can prevent a full and thorough investigation. of the underlying facts.
With his associate, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, reportedly already spilling all the beans in return for a deal that would give him a more lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea and more information on the bigger fish in his sex crime spree, Matt Gaetz can’t count on his daddy to rescue him now.
Original reporting by Gary Fineout at POLITICO.
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