Today we learned that the former owner of Florida’s infamous massage parlor ring – the one recently busted for sex trafficking – likes to hang out at Mar-a-Lago with Donald Trump and his family and friends and political allies. This looks really bad for everyone involved, considering Trump’s friend Robert Kraft visited one of those parlors. But it looks really bad for Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.
The Miami Herald’s startling expose today reveals that Cindy Yang didn’t just hang out at Mar-a-Lago during the Super Bowl; she took selfies with Donald Trump and others while she was there. She’s also taken selfies with other Trump associates along the way. The list includes Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Rick Scott, Ron DeSantis, and Matt Gaetz. To be clear, this proves nothing. Taking a selfie with someone does not mean that you have a criminal relationship with the person, or even that you know the person. But then there’s this one bizarre tidbit from Gaetz’s history.
About a year and a half ago, the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act was passed by every single member of the Senate and House, except for the “no” vote, which came from Matt Gaetz. He gave this ridiculous explanation for why he voted against it: “I vote no because voters in Northwest Florida did not send me to Washington to go and create more federal government.” To be clear, this is not a logic that a single other Republican in Congress bought into when it came to this bill, because all the rest of them voted for it.
So yeah, if only from an optics standpoint, Matt Gaetz has some explaining to do. He was literally the only person in Congress to vote against a bill that cracked down on human trafficking, and now he’s taking selfies with the founder of a massage parlor that ended up being a human trafficking ring, which was recently frequented by Trump’s friend Robert Kraft. This could all very well be a coincidence – but if so, Gaetz should explain how that’s the case. Update: Gaetz has offered an explanation, which we’ve posted in full below.
A spokesperson for Congressman Matt Gaetz has provided Palmer Report with the following statement: “During Congressman Gaetz’s Chairmanship of the Criminal Justice Committee in the Florida House of Representatives, he cracked down on human trafficking and worked across party lines to craft laws used in the arrests involving Ms. Yang’s Day Spa. Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner (D-Lake Worth) served in the Florida House with Congressman Gaetz and affirmed the role their bipartisan legislation plays in support of local law enforcement. ‘The bill we authored to combat human-trafficking is now law and actively being used by the cops and prosecutors who birthed reform in our committee,’ Kerner said. The selfie with Ms. Yang was taken at a Ron DeSantis campaign rally with Mark Levin that was widely attended and open to the public in the Summer of 2018. Congressman Gaetz took hundreds of selfies at this event and takes thousands through the year without vetting people. He has never set foot in any of Ms. Yang’s day spas or properties.”
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report