Far-right Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said the Department of Justice has ended a sex trafficking case against him.
Gaetz is known for his staunch support of former president Donald Trump, and his membership in the conservative Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives.
The lawmaker who represents much of the Florida Panhandle issued a statement through his congressional office that the long-running investigation was over. The DOJ has yet to comment.
It was nearly two years ago when the investigation into Gaetz was first reported.
The initial reporting painted a grim picture. Investigators were examining allegations that the Florida Republican had a sexual relationship with a minor, possibly violating federal sex trafficking laws in the process.
Federal prosecutors were investigating whether Gaetz and onetime political ally Joel Greenberg paid underage girls and escorts or offered them gifts in exchange for sex.
Greenberg, a fellow Republican who served as the tax collector in Florida’s Seminole County, admitted as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that he paid women and an underage girl to have sex with him and other men. The men were not identified in court documents when he pleaded guilty.
Federal investigators were looking into a trip that Gaetz took to the Bahamas with a group of women and Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and Gaetz campaign donor, and whether the women were paid or received gifts to have sex with the men.
While he is a relatively junior member of Congress, Gaetz has gained national attention through his frequent cable news appearances in recent years in which he offered an unvarnished defense of Trump.
But few Republicans had rushed to support him as the investigation unfolded and shadowed his career, and some treated him like a pariah.
Gaetz even sought a pardon from the then-Republican president, Trump.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy recently quietly appointed Gaetz to the new GOP subcommittee on the “weaponization of the federal government.”
But in practice, the Florida congressman’s role on the “weaponization” panel will likely mean that Gaetz will be able to go after the same law enforcement officials who investigated his alleged wrongdoing.