December 7, 2023

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks during a hearing at the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, the United States, on July 29, 2020.

Graeme Jennings | Reuters

A former Rep. Matt Gaetz employee said Monday that FBI agents contacted him last week shortly after it became known that the Florida Republican was involved in a federal investigation into the sex trafficking.

Nathan Nelson, Gaetz’s former director of military affairs, said two agents questioned him at his home after hearing from media officials that Nelson knew of Gaetz’s alleged involvement in illegal activities. The media tipsters told the FBI that Nelson resigned based on this knowledge, the ex-aide said.

“I’m here this morning to declare that nothing could be further from the truth,” Nelson said at a press conference in northwest Florida. “Neither I nor any other employee of Congressman Gaetz had knowledge of illegal activities.”

Nelson said his departure from Gaetz’s office last fall had nothing to do with an investigation into the Justice Department’s allegations against the 38-year-old Republican congressman. The investigation into whether Gaetz trafficked an underage girl began in the final months of former President Donald Trump’s tenure, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Gaetz, an outspoken Trump loyalist from Florida, has vigorously denied the allegations he is reportedly being investigated.

Last week, Gaetz said in a statement that he and his family are threatened in a multi-million dollar extortion program involving a former Justice Department official. Police officers told NBC News that the DOJ is pursuing a separate investigation into Gaetz’s allegations of blackmail.

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

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

The former Gaetz aide said he knew nothing specific about the investigation and had never heard of Greenberg before last week’s reports. But the “unsubstantiated allegation” that led the FBI to approach him “continues to convince me” that the allegations against Gaetz “are also fabricated,” Nelson said.

Another Gaetz employee, communications director Luke Ball, resigned last week.

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

Nelson told reporters that as a military advisor “in an unpaid capacity” he was still “loosely connected to Gaetz’s office” but said he had not spoken to Gaetz in “several months”.