A former staffer for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said Monday that the FBI has questioned him about the embattled congressman’s sex trafficking scandal — but blasted the allegations against the lawmaker as “baseless.”
Nathan Nelson, Gaetz’s former military affairs director who resigned last October, was grilled by the FBI on Wednesday — a day after allegations against Gaetz came to light.
“[Two FBI agents] told me that members of the media reached out to them asserting that I had previous knowledge of Congressman Gaetz’s involvement in illegal activities,” Nelson said during a press conference held outside his home in the Florida panhandle. “They asserted because of that knowledge, I resigned my position as the director of military affairs.”
Nelson said his resignation had nothing to do with Gaetz’s alleged misconduct.
“I’m here this morning to state that nothing could be further from the truth. Neither I nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz’s staff had any knowledge of illegal activities,” he said. “This baseless claim against me leaves me further convinced that the allegations against Congressman Gaetz are likewise fabricated and merely an attempt to discredit a very vocal conservative.”
Gaetz has faced a stunning fall from grace over the last week after it was revealed he’s under investigation by the Department of Justice for allegedly paying a 17-year-old for sex and enticing her to travel, which violates federal sex trafficking laws.
He has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying they are nothing more than an elaborate extortion attempt against him and his family.
Nelson claimed he had a “planned departure” from Gaetz’s office that had nothing to do with the allegations.
“I left to continue supporting the military mission in a private capacity, helping to align the department of defense, defense industry and academia for workforce development here in the panhandle,” Nelson explained of his late-October departure last year.
The former employee said he contacted Gaetz’s office to let them know what he’d told the FBI.
“I reached out to the congressman’s office to let them know that the FBI came to the house and to ask them if they had any other information regarding the media’s claims and where any of that came from,” Nelson explained.
“It’s clear that, you know, there are people out there that are making baseless allegations and I wanted to make sure that my words were direct from my mouth.”
News of the press briefing was announced by Gaetz’s office, even though Nelson no longer works for the congressman.
He said he’s still “loosely affiliated” with the lawmaker as a “military advisor in an unpaid capacity” but the two haven’t spoken in months.