Embattled Florida congressman Matt Gaetz finds himself increasingly isolated as a federal sex trafficking investigation into his activities continues. Now, Politico reports in an extensive profile how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has all but abandoned the former unofficial adviser who some say helped get him elected.
The Florida governor is far from the only person to keep his distance from Gaetz. He is thought to be in legal jeopardy, especially now that his former friend Joel Greenberg pled guilty to a handful of charges last week related to having sex with a minor. Greenberg cut a deal with prosecutors to name names, which many suspect will include Gaetz.
Even Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend has reportedly agreed to cooperate with investigators. Even former president Donald Trump has reportedly turned down a meeting with the lawmaker, who was one of his most loyal backers.
But the DeSantis cold shoulder is in some ways the most surprising, given how influential Gaetz was in his rise to the top office in the Sunshine State.
Politico outlines just how key a role Gaetz played in helping DeSantis navigate Florida’s unique political landscape, writing,
“He was a top campaign adviser to DeSantis, who he met while both served in Congress. DeSantis at the time was a little-known GOP congressman in 2018 and needed help navigating Florida’s political landscape as he weighed whether to run for governor. Gaetz, 39, had deep connections to Florida’s political class because of his father, Don Gaetz, a powerful former state senator. Gaetz went on to play roles in DeSantis’ campaign and his early administration.“
More than a half-dozen people connected to DeSantis spoke — off the record — about the influence Gaetz had on the governor, saying he essentially picked the transition team once the election was over. One former staff member added that Gaetz was involved in almost every aspect of the campaign in the stretch run..
“Man, I can’t tell you how much by the end of the election he was the campaign,” said another former DeSantis adviser who worked on the race. “By the time we were in heavy general election mode, DeSantis was not doing anything without Gaetz being in on it.”
At one point, the story mentions how Gaetz brought his then-pal Greenberg to meet the gubernatorial candidate.
The Governor clearly does not want to answer any questions about Gaetz’s legal troubles, and has refused to comment when asked by reporters. But according to sources, Gaetz had already started to lose influence with DeSantis before his current problems, due to a power struggle with the governor’s former chief of staff, Shane Strum. He was apparently an aggressive gatekeeper who kept Gaetz at bay.
Now, the congressman finds himself increasingly isolated, with only the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan willing to publicly support him.