Since federal prosecutors obtained the cooperation of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz's once close-ally in May, sources tell ABC News the ongoing investigation, which includes sex trafficking allegations involving Gaetz, has engulfed the tight-knit Central Florida political scene as prosecutors continue their investigation of the Florida congressman.
Former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, who reached a plea deal last month, has been assisting federal agents in the sprawling probe that has recently revved up its focus on alleged corruption and fraud stemming from Greenberg's time in office and beyond, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.
The former tax collector pleaded guilty in May to a host of crimes including charges of stalking, identity theft, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official, as well as a sex trafficking charge. Greenberg is prepared to hand over evidence and testimony that could implicate Gaetz and others, sources told ABC News.
Sources told ABC News that prosecutors believe a decision about whether or not to bring charges against Gaetz could come as early as July.
Sources said the probe into the congressman has ramped up in recent weeks. Investigators have started interviewing more women who were allegedly introduced to Gaetz through Greenberg, who last month pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl -- who later went on to work in pornography -- and introducing her to other "adult men." Since May, a new round of target letters and subpoenas in the wide-ranging investigation have been sent out, ABC News has learned.
Another avenue investigators have been focusing on recently, according to sources, are contracts that Greenberg handed out through the tax office totaling more than $1.5 million, which an independent audit late last year described as "unnecessary" and "considered to be a waste of taxpayer dollars," according to documents in the forensic audit of the tax office obtained by ABC News through a public records request.
Sources told ABC News that investigators have reached out to Keith Ingersoll, whose firm KI Consulting had a $48,000 contract with the tax office that ran between January 2017 and September 2020. The audit found that there was "no evidence of work product" by Ingersoll's group despite the multi-year contract and staff at the tax office being "unaware what this group did."
Ingersoll's attorney did not respond to multiple requests for comment from ABC News.
Friday, June 18, 2021
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is almost certainly going to be indicted soon on sexual assault charges for his escapades involving underage girls, and a wingman, Joel Greenberg, already flipping on him to avoid the worst federal tax fraud charges, but now the question is rapidly evolving into just how many other Florida Republicans Gaetz and Greenberg take down with them.
So the feds appear to suspect that Greenberg's massive multi million-dollar tax fraud scheme -- which he's already plead guilty to, mind you --was in fact used to pay underage girls for sex for multiple Republicans in Central Florida, not just Matt Gaetz. And let's not forget, this girls were 100% victimized by adults here. They are not the villains. They deserve justice. They were used and abused, and Gaetz and his asshole bros need to pay for a good, long time.
I suspect things are going to get very bad, very quickly for Gaetz and a lot of the GOP when the indictments start raining down like a Florida thunderstorm. I should only be so lucky if this all ends up pointing to Gov. Ron DeSantis, too.
Stay tuned, folks.
With news that COVID-19 appeared in the US as early as December 2019, Beijing is now all but accusing the Biden administration of covering up America being part of the international "multiple origins" of the virus, and is demanding that the global medical community focus on America's part in spreading the virus globally.
A senior Chinese epidemiologist said the United States should be the priority in the next phase of investigations into the origin of COVID-19 after a study showed the disease could have been circulating there as early as December 2019, state media said on Thursday.
The study, published this week by the U.S. National Institutes for Health (NIH), showed that at least seven people in five U.S. states were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, weeks before the United States reported its first official cases.
A China-World Health Organization (WHO) joint study published in March said COVID-19 most likely originated in the country's wildlife trade, with the virus passing into humans from bats via an intermediary species.
But Beijing has promoted the theory that COVID-19 entered China from overseas via contaminated frozen food, while a number of foreign politicians are also calling for more investigations into the possibility it leaked from a laboratory.
Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state-owned tabloid the Global Times that attention should shift to the United States, which was slow to test people in the early stages of the outbreak, and is also the home of many biological laboratories.
"All bio-weapons related subjects that the country has should be subject to scrutiny," he was quoted as saying.
Commenting on the U.S. study on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it was now "obvious" the COVID-19 outbreak had "multiple origins" and that other countries should co-operate with the WHO.
It's nonsense of course, it just means that the virus got across from China weeks earlier than originally caught, which we knew last year. On the other hand, Trump's response to the virus was so incompetent that the US can't really say that it wasn't part of the problem of global spread of the virus...and let's remember that so far it's killed over 600,000 Americans.
On top of all that, tens of millions of American refused to get vaccinated. China doesn't really have to do much of anything if this is a bio-weapon that got loose, because our own ignorance will kill millions over the next few years as the virus continues to mutate into more lethal strains.
China has all the reason it needs to blame the US. We elected Trump, after all. Why wouldn't some believe them?
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has finally come around to a compromise with his fellow Democrats on voting rights and election protection, in a package that he believes is fair, bipartisan, and historic.
The Senate GOP on Thursday took a big, huge steaming crap all over it and vowed to vote against it to a person.
Senate Republicans spent months praising Joe Manchin for his insistence on cross-party compromise. Next week they will almost surely end his hopes for a bipartisan deal on elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believed all 50 Republicans would oppose Sen. Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) slimmed-down elections compromise, which focuses on expanding early voting and ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections. And it’s not clear there’s a single Republican vote to even begin debate on the matter, potentially dooming Manchin's proposals before they can even make it into the bill.
Both Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said they would likely oppose a procedural vote next week that would bring Democrats’ massive elections reform bill to the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate could amend the bill to adopt Manchin’s changes. But Romney said supporting that strategy “doesn’t make a lot of sense to me" and Murkowski said “Joe hasn’t briefed me on any of this.”
“It needs to be blocked,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who praised Manchin last week for “saving our country” in encouraging bipartisanship. “I’m not optimistic that they could make enough changes to that to make it a fair bill. It would usurp the rights of the states.”
The apparent blanket Republican opposition to bringing Democrats’ legislation to the floor and potentially amending it — as the Senate’s swingiest vote desires — moves the voting rights debate to a new phase. Schumer told Democrats at a Thursday caucus meeting that the vote on the elections bill will be Tuesday, June 22, according to a source familiar with the meeting. That bill will need 60 votes to proceed over a filibuster.
Manchin had long sought an approach that had input from Republicans and one that he could support, but it’s become apparent there is no road to a bipartisan compromise on election legislation. He said his opposition wasn’t just because there was no GOP support, but also because Democrats’ changes to help publicly finance elections, for example, went too far for him.
“They got confused thinking ‘the only reason you’re against it is because there’s no Republicans.’ That’s not it at all. I think it should be bipartisan. I think it’s a dangerous thing to do something that monumental” on party lines, Manchin said on Wednesday after he rolled out some of his changes. “The other thing is there were some things, being a former secretary of state and governor, that just didn’t make sense."
Murkowski has joined Manchin on a proposal to re-up the Voting Rights Act, but that legislation will wait until the fall. And that leaves Congress in a deadlock, infuriating progressives.
Manchin is also among a group of Democrats opposed to gutting the filibuster to install elections law changes, leaving no partisan road map either in a 50-50 Senate where Democrats would need every single vote to make changes on party lines. That group of filibuster-repeal skeptics may shrink after next week’s vote on the so-called For the People Act, with several Democrats saying the GOP’s rejection of that bill could change their minds.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who has led the GOP opposition to the elections bill because of its federalized approach to state elections, said “every one of us works for opportunities to work with Sen. Manchin.” But he added that when “Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Sen. Manchin’s proposal, it became the Stacey Abram’s substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute.”
Understand that there is no package of federal election reforms that the GOP will vote for, because Republican will lose elections they cannot rig. Republicans don't want more people to vote. They want voting to be strictly limited to rich white folk who can afford to take the time off to go vote, and white senior citizens who have all the free time they need to vote Republican.
Everyone else can suffer in line for 10 hours.
To his credit, Manchin keeps proving time and time again that there is no compromise his Republican friends will accept. To his detriment, he seems to not have actually learned anything from wasting America's time proving something the rest of us already knew.
Where do we go from here? Well, like the January 6th commission, it'll get blocked next week, and we have nothing. Republicans won't be made to pay a price, because they can freely manipulate who can vote so that they don't have to.
I don't know what else Manchin wants, and since he'll never change his mind on the filibuster (and if he does miraculously, then all the power goes to Kyrsten Sinema who will play the same game) so at this point, I don't know what else we can do except watch our Republic get wiped out in 2022 and 2024 and permanent GOP control is phased in.
But hey, Manchin kept his morals, right?
- After passing both the House and Senate this week, President Biden has signed into law legislation declaring Juneteenth as a national federal holiday, meaning federal employees will have today off.
- An hour-long blackout suffered by global web services provider Akamai interrupted business for multiple US airlines and Australian banks, among other corporations early Thursday.
- Peru's judicial electoral board says that full results of this month's presidential elections could take weeks as Pedro Castillo claimed victory, while opponent Keiko Fujimori refuses concession.
- Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Edwin Poots is facing a possible collapse of government as a power sharing agreement with Sinn Fein has come unraveled.
- Ohio Republicans are close to eliminating municipal broadband in the state with a budget amendment that would make public broadband illegal for 98% of residents.