Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is currently under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl, was among the 20 Republicans who voted against reauthorizing the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention & Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022—legislation that supports programs preventing human trafficking and supporting its victims.
On Tuesday, the House passed a bipartisan bill to assist human trafficking victims by a vote of 401-20, with both Democratic and Republican Representatives voting in favor.
While all but one House Democrat abstained and 183 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, the following 20 Republicans voted against it:
- Brian Babin of Texas
- Andy Biggs of Arizona
- Lauren Boebert of Colorado
- Mo Brooks of Alabama
- Ken Buck of Colorado
- Andrew Clyde of Georgia
- Matt Gaetz of Florida
- Louis Gohmert of Texas
- Paul Gosar of Arizona
- Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia
- Andy Harris of Maryland
- Jody Hice of Georgia
- Thomas Massie of Kentucky
- Thomas M. McClintock of California
- Mary Miller of Illinois
- Troy Nehls of Texas
- Ralph Norman of South Carolina
- Scott Perry of Pennsylvania
- Chip Roy of Texas
- Van Taylor of Texas
It’s not surprising that Gaetz is on this list, given that he was the only Representative to vote “no” on a human trafficking bill in December 2017, which established an advisory committee to coordinate efforts to prevent human trafficking.
The Florida congressman later stated that he voted against the bill in order to avoid the creation of new federal entities, referring to the legislation as “mission creep” and a “expansion of the federal government.”
When the New York Times revealed in 2021 that Gaetz was being investigated by the Justice Department for alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl—allegations he denies—many saw a link between his lone vote in 2017 and the probe against him.
According to the New York Times, the federal investigation into Gaetz was launched in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency, following a previous investigation into Gaetz’s political ally and friend Joel Greenberg, who has since pleaded guilty to sex trafficking.
Investigators are looking into whether Gaetz paid an underage girl, then 17, for sex and paid for her to cross the state line with him, which would be considered sex trafficking under federal law.
Little is known about the investigations, but the media has leaked a few details.
According to the Washington Post, Gaetz used to arrange dates with women in exchange for dinner or hotel stays, which would be illegal only if there was a clear exchange of money for sex, and Greenberg himself wrote a letter directly accusing Gaetz of paying for sex with women.
According to the Daily Beast, Gaetz transferred $900 to Greenberg via Venmo, saying “hit up _,” a nickname for the 17-year-old.
The Florida congressman has consistently denied the allegations, declaring that “no part of the allegations against me are true.” Gaetz has been contacted by The Freedom News for comment.
After Gaetz once again voted against a bill to combat human trafficking, rumors circulated on social media that the Florida congressman was voting for personal gain.
“I’ll let you guess how Matt Gaetz voted on this. And you’ll be right “Brian Tyler Cohen, a political commentator, wrote on Twitter.
Marc Short, Mike Pence’s former chief of staff, told CNN on Monday night that he’d be “surprised” if Gaetz is still voting in 2024.
“It’s more likely he’ll be in prison for child trafficking by 2024,” he said in response to a question about his potential concerns about the Florida congressman if Pence runs for president in 2020.
“So I’m not too concerned about what Matt Gaetz thinks,” Short explained.