Former assistant to Matt Gaetz says FBI contacted him after sex trafficking investigation news

Nathan Nelson, a former staff member of United States Rep. Matt Gaetz, speaks to the media in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, on April 5, 2021.

Colin Hackley | Reuters

One of Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former employees said Monday that FBI agents contacted him last week, shortly after it emerged that the Florida Republican was involved in a federal sex trafficking investigation.

Nathan Nelson, Gaetz’s former director of military affairs, said two officers questioned him at his home after hearing from the media that Nelson knew of Gaetz’s alleged involvement in illegal activities. Media insiders told the FBI that Nelson resigned as a result of that knowledge, the former aide said.

“I’m here to say this morning that nothing could be further from the truth,” Nelson told a news conference in northwest Florida. “Neither I nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz’s staff were aware of illegal activities.”

Nelson said his departure from Gaetz’s office last fall was not related to the Justice Department’s investigation of the allegations against the 38-year-old Republican congressman. The investigation into whether Gaetz was trafficking in an underage girl began in the final months of former President Donald Trump’s tenure, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Gaetz, an outspoken Trump loyalist from Florida, has flatly denied the allegations they are reportedly investigating him for.

Last week, Gaetz said in a statement that he and his family are being threatened in a multi-million dollar extortion scheme involving a former Justice Department official. Law enforcement officials told NBC News that the Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into Gaetz’s claims that he was extorted.

The sex trafficking investigation involving Gaetz stemmed from another case involving his former associate, Joel Greenberg, a local official in Florida who was indicted last summer on numerous charges, including the sex trafficking of a child.

Nelson said at the press conference that he was approached by federal agents the day after the Times’ first report on alleged sex trafficking.

Gaetz’s former aide said he knows nothing specific about the investigation and had never heard of Greenberg prior to last week’s reports. But the “baseless claim” that led the FBI to approach him “leaves me more convinced” that the accusations against Gaetz “are also fabricated,” Nelson said.

Another Gaetz staff member, communications director Luke Ball, resigned last week.

Nelson worked in Gaetz’s office for more than four years before leaving last October, according to his LinkedIn profile. He said his departure was planned for Monday.

Nelson told reporters that he is still “loosely affiliated” with Gaetz’s office as a military adviser “in an unpaid capacity,” but said he has not spoken to Gaetz in “several months.”


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