With the political zone currently flooded with Afghanistan and COVID news, the saga of Rep. Matt Gaetz has taken a backseat since the spring. At the end of March, a leak that I suspect came from the partisan hacks at the FBI/DOJ exposed the existence of an investigation into the Congressman.
Since then, allegations have flown about sex trafficking and other nefarious activity, though, nothing has ever been substantiated. Meanwhile, Gaetz has been barnstorming the country doing so-called “America First” rallies. Whether that effort has any direct connection with former President Donald Trump is a bit of a mystery.
Still, what was interesting at the time news of the investigation broke is that Gaetz claimed a conspiracy against him. Many in the media dismissed the notion, but I wrote at the time that the evidence supported what he was saying.
Now, in a bit of a surprise move, Gaetz has been proven correct via the indictment of one of the men who tried to extort him and his father.
The plot thickens
Remember when Matt Gaetz alleged someone tried to shake down his dad for $25m, promising lenient federal treatment in the sex-crimes investigation of the Rep?
A man named Stephen Alford just got indicted for it
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) August 31, 2021
A Florida developer and fraud convict was arrested Tuesday on a charge that he tried to extort $25 million from the father of Rep. Matt Gaetz in exchange for a presidential pardon that would shut down a high-profile, criminal sex-trafficking investigation into the Republican congressman.
Stephen Alford, 62, of Fort Walton Beach, was indicted on charges of wire fraud and destruction of property subject to a seizure warrant.
The indictment alleges that in March and April of this year, Alford attempted to get Gaetz's wealthy father, Don, to pay the large sum as part of a complex deal dubbed “Project Homecoming.” The scheme Alford promoted would also have funded a private effort to rescue a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, Robert Levinson. U.S. officials said last year they believe Levinson was arrested and later died in Iranian custody, but Iran has publicly denied arresting Levinson. His body has never been found.
Meanwhile, Gaetz remains unindicted for anything despite the deluge of media-driven accusations against him. There's a lesson in there about how the government uses targeted leaks to the news industry to harm political enemies, and no one ever gets punished for it.
Sure, Gaetz is the kind of politician that will rub some people the wrong way. The big hair, the derived persona, and the spotlight seeking may not be your cup of tea. Yet, none of that excuses illegal leaks being used to try to destroy someone without any evidence of wrongdoing (at least as far as what has been made public).
If the DOJ actually has something, they should move forward with it already. But there's very little reason to believe they just need more time regarding the supposed investigation against Gaetz. Rather, it appears this is going nowhere but that the ambiguity has become a convenient political weapon for some.
Maybe I'm wrong about that and Gaetz ends up charged with something, but as it stands, he's been proven right on a key count while those who keep hiding behind anonymous sources have provided nothing of value.