(JTA) – Matt Gaetz, the Republican congressman under federal investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a minor, has brought into the increasingly complex scandal an alleged bid to free Robert Levinson, the Jewish former FBI agent who went missing in Iran more than a dozen years ago. On March 31, Gaetz and his father produced documents that suggest a trio of figures associated with the search for Levinson solicited $25 million from Gaetz’s father that would free the agent and get the congressman off the hook on charges from the relationship. The Gaetzes and Levinson are from Florida. According to the purported plan, Matt Gaetz would be depicted as the man who freed Levinson, which would earn him good will from the U.S. government and possibly a pardon for his alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Gaetz and his father, Don, who is said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, say they alerted federal authorities to the alleged extortion scheme. There is no evidence that Levinson’s family was involved in the scheme. The three men in the alleged scheme were not involved in the investigation into the accusations of Gaetz’s illicit affair. Levinson’s family has accepted that he is dead based on evidence presented to them by the FBI. U.S. officials say Iran is responsible for Levinson’s disappearance. Iran’s government has denied any involvement.
The investigation into Gaetz reportedly arose out of the probe of his friend Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax official who has been indicted for sex trafficking a minor, as well as identity theft and myriad other charges. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.
Main Photo: Rep. Matt Gaetz addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 26, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)