Among other ongoing scandals, Representative Matt Gaetz has been accused of involvement in an alleged medical cannabis scheme, according to records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. The probe into allegations of sex trafficking led investigators to uncover evidence that the lawmaker’s interest in medical cannabis policy may have been influenced by money.
While Gaetz was seen as a relatively rare Republican supporter of cannabis reform, his intentions remain elusive. An Orlando, Florida-based medical cannabis entrepreneur is accused of arranging access to Representative Matt Gaetz for the top executive at a cannabis-industry company looking to do business, while simultaneously pushing the company’s leader to donate $10,000 to Gaetz’s reelection campaign.
In 2017, surgeon Jason Pirozzolo allegedly invited the CEO of Alternate Health Corp. to a small fundraiser that he was planning to host for Representative Gaetz at an Orlando hotel during a conference organized by Pirozzolo’s American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association. Pirozzolo is alleged to have pushed Alternate Health CEO Dr. Michael Murphy to commit a $10,000 donation to Gaetz’s campaign, sending instructions on how to make the donations in accordance with federal campaign-finance law.
New: Jason Pirozzolo arranged access to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz for the top executive at a cannabis-industry company looking to do business in Florida, while at the same time pressing the company’s leader to donate $10,000 to Gaetz’s reelection campaign: https://t.co/9GM2mdVtLW
— Jason Garcia (@Jason_Garcia) May 27, 2021
Now, both Gaetz and Pirozzolo are reportedly under investigation for public corruption involving medical cannabis policy. CNN reported that investigators are determining if Gaetz’s connections to the cannabis industry amount to “pay-to-play arrangements.”
Pirozzolo is also accused of joining Gaetz in a 2018 trip to the Bahamas with young women. Representative Halsey Beshears (R-Monticello), whose brother co-founded the state’s largest medical cannabis company was allegedly also on that trip.
Gaetz spokesperson said he has no memory of the aforementioned incidents. “Congressman Gaetz has participated in thousands of conversations about marijuana policy and is among the nation’s top experts on the subject,” Gaetz spokesperson Harlan Hill said. “Congressman Gaetz has a career-long commitment to cannabis policy that is tied to his sincere desire to help people.”
Gaetz’s acquaintance and former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to sex trafficking, among other charges, and is now cooperating with authorities.