When Jason Pirozzolo applied for an appointment from Ron DeSantis to the board that runs Orlando International Airport his references included…wait for it…Matt Gaetz and Halsey Beshears: pic.twitter.com/tNiGdL3G0Y
— Jason Garcia (@Jason_Garcia) April 7, 2021
A Florida hand surgeon and pot advocate tied to the federal Matt Gaetz sex trafficking investigation landed a state appointment after Ron DeSantis became governor. An Orlando Sentinel investigation detailed the implications of DeSantis naming Jason Pirozzollo to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. The Authority controls a $4 billion construction budget, according to the newspaper.
CBS News has reported that Gaetz went to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 after Pirozzolo “allegedly paid for the travel expenses, accommodations, and female escorts.”
Gaetz is a Republican congressman who helped lead the DeSantis transition team when DeSantis was elected governor in November 2018. Gaetz talked with the Orlando Sentinel about Pirozzolo in 2019. Pirozzolo made a $5,400 donation to Friends of Ron DeSantis on Aug. 4, 2018, and $4,800 on Aug. 20 of the same year, according to records provided by the campaign organization. Friends of Matt Gaetz gave the DeSantis group $25,000 on Aug. 31, 2018, and another $25,000 on Oct. 10, 2018, records show.
As the 2018 campaign reached the end, Vitas Hospice Services LLC, of Hollywood, donated $15,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis, a Friends report shows. Don Gaetz, the wealthy, politically-connected father of Matt, sold Vitas to Chemed in 2004, years before the company settled a federal fraud lawsuit with the Justice Department. Don Gaetz was not named as a defendant. He denied any wrongdoing.
Gaetz, who was friendly with DeSantis when the two served together in Congress, has tried to influence the governor and his campaign in other ways. A recent Washington Post article revealed that three people involved with the 2018 DeSantis campaign for governor recalled comments Gaetz made suggesting the campaign stop in college towns at night.
The newspaper reported, “At times in recent years, though, Gaetz was known to remark about hanging out with crowds younger than himself. Three people involved in the 2018 gubernatorial campaign of Ron DeSantis said that Gaetz, an adviser who later helped lead DeSantis’s transition team, repeatedly suggested that events be scheduled in a way that would ‘end the night in a college town.’ These people said that, although the suggestions seemed lighthearted, they understood Gaetz to be implying that he wanted to visit bars in those communities. Gaetz turned 36 during the DeSantis campaign.”
The Washington Post reached out to the DeSantis Administration for a response. “This is an ongoing DOJ investigation. We have no comment,” DeSantis spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said in an email.
I also emailed a member of the DeSantis administration. I wrote, “ Did the 2018 Ron DeSantis campaign make stops at college towns at night? If yes, was this done at least partly on the basis of recommendations by Matt Gaetz? Has Ron DeSantis ever heard – directly or indirectly – sexually related boasts by Matt Gaetz involving younger women? If yes, did he report what he heard to authorities? If not, why not?”
And I asked Jared Moskowitz, “Can you please look into these questions? You don’t just work for Governor DeSantis. You also work for the people of Florida, who may be asked to reelect the governor next year, and maybe make him president in 2024.”
Moskowitz is a Democratic politician in Florida who was named Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management by DeSantis. His father, Mike, is a major Democratic fundraiser in the Sunshine State.
Moskowitz this week spoke out in support of DeSantis, who he felt was unfairly tarnished by a 60 Minutes report. The TV news magazine connected Publix supermarket donations to DeSantis to the DeSantis administration giving the popular Florida store the right to administer Covid-19 vaccines at their pharmacies.
To date, all allegations involving alleged “pay to play” corruption in the DeSantis administration have been denied. So have all sex trafficking allegations naming Gaetz and at least two other Florida residents. The federal investigation ensnared Gaetz after a Florida friend and rising GOP politician was indicted.