Orlando, Florida (AP) — When Matt Gaetz took a vacation in the Bahamas in 2018, he joined a doctor who donated to the campaign and a former colleague of the Florida State Capitol.
Republican lawmakers Dr. Jason Voorhees and Halsey Beshares united to enjoy politics, luxury travel, and socializing with beautiful women. They had another mutual benefit: Florida’s $ 1.2 billion medical marijuana industry.
A trip to the Bahamas was a central element of the federal investigation surrounding Gates and suddenly endangered his political career. According to people familiar with the survey, what began as a sex trafficking survey and whether Gates paid women and underage girls in exchange for sex grew into a larger review of public corruption. ..
Investigators are seeing if Gates and his associates tried to secure government jobs for some women, people said. They are also scrutinizing the relationship between Gates and the medical marijuana sector, including whether they tried to influence Gates-sponsored legislation. According to one, the investigation includes legislation from 2018, when Gates was in parliament, and previous work in the state legislature.
Joel Greenberg, a fellow Gates accused of sexually trafficking minors, could put pressure on Congressmen in the coming weeks. Facing a May 15 deadline for conducting a judicial transaction With the prosecutor. If so, Greenberg may be forced to work with federal agents to provide Gates with harmful information.
No one has been charged with a crime while traveling to the Bahamas. Gates violently denied cheating We have a strong lawyer. Congressman and his representative did not respond to a message asking for comment on the story.
Beshears and Pirozzolo lawyers declined to comment on the story.
The Associated Press spoke with more than 10 people familiar with the dynamics of Gates, Pilozolo and Beschers. The three had knowledge of the investigation. Everyone spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not allowed to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly.
Gates’ interest in medical marijuana dates back nearly a decade when he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives.A long time ago He will get national attention for his solid support of Donald TrumpGates will open up a rare reputation in Tallahassee as a Republican who wanted to liberalize marijuana law.
In February 2014, Gates co-sponsored the first state initiative to allow medical use of marijuana. His proposal to allow the use of non-hallucinating marijuana extracts was limited to patients with cancer or severe epilepsy and slowly gained the support of his father, Don Gates, who was president of the Florida Senate. “Being overwhelmed” by his son about supporting it.
Gates cast his proposal as a simplified alternative to a state-wide voting bill that would widely legalize medical marijuana. Gates’ law was approved with widespread bipartisan support and signed by Republican Governor Rick Scott in June 2014, but the state-wide bill failed slightly in its November ballot box.
Both Pilozolo and Beschers were on the floor the day Gates’ actions were ready for final debate and voting in the Florida House of Representatives.
Beshears was a legislative Republican who joined Gates to support legislation. Orlando’s hand doctor and pilot, Pilozolo, was the doctor of the day for lawmakers. He often played that role by flying his plane to Tallahassee.
When the bill was passed, it created new opportunities in favor of the Beshears family and Pirozzolo.
A long-standing nursery owned by the Beshears family has been awarded one of five highly coveted licenses for growing and dispensing medical marijuana.
This law was created to specify and limit who can obtain such licenses. Due to an amendment added by another member of the Florida House, the applicant’s pool has been in business for 30 years and has been limited to nurseries with over 400,000 plant inventories.
The Beshears family nursery met that standard in collaboration with two other growers.
The Tampa Bay Times reported in 2014 that it did not file a conflict of interest report when Beschers voted on the bill. New industry. Since then, more licenses have been granted, but the industry is still tightly controlled.
Another amendment added to the 2014 law on the day Pilozolo monitored in the House of Representatives required clinic applicants to hire doctors as medical directors.
Eight days later, Pirozzolo launched a consulting firm that connects the marijuana business with medical directors, Orlando Sentinel reported. He later co-founded a group called the American Medical Marijuana Medical Association, which advocates for doctors who recommend medical cannabis.
According to the group’s social media posts and member recollections, Gates spoke at least twice at the association’s annual meeting. This includes appearances with Trump’s longtime best friend Roger Stone.
Following recommendations from Gates and Beschers in 2018, Pilozolo was appointed by current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the board of directors of Orlando International Airport. In 2019, he stood next to Desantis at the airport apron and greeted Trump when he arrived in Orlando and launched a reelection campaign, according to a video posted online by a Orlando Sentinel reporter.
Two years after Gates’ first medical marijuana law, he sponsored another step in the Florida State Capitol to extend it, allowing near-dead patients to use non-smoking marijuana of all strengths and doses. Did.
The day it was decided to vote at the Florida House, Beschers voted for it, and Pilozolo witnessed it and served as a doctor for the day again.
By the time Gates attended Congress in 2018, he had introduced legislation to increase the number of entities conducting cannabis research. The law contained similar provisions that the Pilozolo group was promoting to expand its research.
Almost five months later, the man met in the Bahamas.
Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington of Tallahassee, Florida and Terry Spencer of Fort Lauderdale, Florida contributed to this report.
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