To say Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) is in some trouble is an understatement. The latest development in the Florida congressman's scandal isn't the worst problem he's facing, but judging from the tweets and memes about Matt Gaetz's Venmo, it's definitely one of the dumbest. As the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates Gaetz's alleged relationship with a 17-year-old, alleged sex trafficking, and alleged payments for sex (all of which Gaetz denies), people on Twitter couldn't get over the latest revelation in a Daily Beast report: Gaetz's public Venmo account. In between roasting the House member with memes, people also asked why he would keep his Venmo transactions public as a sitting congressman.
On March 30, The New York Times reported that Gaetz was under investigation by the DOJ for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, as well as possible sex trafficking for allegedly paying for said girl to travel with him. Gaetz publicly denounced the allegations in a tweet on March 31 and in an April 5 op-ed for the Washington Examiner, claiming they were part of an alleged extortion scheme aimed at his family. The congressman's office did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment.
That's where Gaetz's Venmo comes in: According to an April 8 Daily Beast report, one of the congressman's contacts on Venmo is alleged sex trafficker Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County tax collector who allegedly arranged hookups with women in exchange for cash payments or gifts. A representative for Greenberg did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment, but his lawyer has publicly indicated Greenberg plans to plead guilty on multiple charges. Gaetz reportedly made two Venmo payments to Greenberg in May 2018 for $900. The first reported (public) payment had a memo section that read "Test," and the second payment reportedly read, "hit up ___," using a nickname for the young woman, who had just turned 18. Per The Daily Beast, those payments were reportedly followed the next morning by Greenberg paying a total of $900 to three women for "Tuition," "School," and "School." Elite Daily reached out to Gaetz's office and Greenberg's lawyer for comment on the reported transactions, including the purpose of the reported payments, but did not hear back at the time of publication. Per The Daily Beast, Gaetz's Venmo has since been set to private.
As of publication, Gaetz hasn't been charged with any crimes, but the federal laws on child sex trafficking make it clear recruiting or transporting a minor for a commercial sex act is illegal. The statute defines a "commercial sex act" as any form of sex in exchange for something valuable. Should the allegations in the investigation bear out, it could mean trouble for Gaetz.
People on Twitter questioned a lot about the whole situation, considering the seriousness of the allegations — but one thing most people agreed on is that out of all the bad decisions Gaetz is allegedly on the hook for, leaving his Venmo public is seriously stupid. Most people couldn't get over the fact that a sitting congressman is using public Venmo at all. And when there's a moment when most of Twitter can agree, people don't hold back:
One Twitter user joked about why the majority of the GOP hasn't called on Gaetz to resign:
And because it's Twitter, there were — of course — memes:
Although the alleged sex trafficking is a serious issue, people couldn't skip out on the chance to dunk on Gaetz. More will likely be revealed as the federal case against Greenberg plays out, so this definitely won't be the last you hear of Gaetz and his infamous public Venmo account.