The first thing some of the women were asked to do when they got to the house parties in the gated community in suburban Orlando was to put away their cellphones, according to two women in attendance who spoke to CNN in recent days. The men inside, a who's who of local Republican officials that often included Rep. Matt Gaetz, did not want the night's activities documented.
The partygoers, at times dressed in formal wear from a political event they'd just left, mingled and shared drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. Some had sex.
Gaetz, the brash Republican, liked to discuss politics, said one of the women. He behaved like a "frat type of party boy," she said, sometimes taking pills she believed were recreational drugs.
Details of the parties, which have not been previously reported, were described to CNN by two women who attended several of them over the past few years. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.
The behavior of Gaetz and the other high-powered men at the events, and a pattern of digital payments that followed, will likely be items of interest to the Justice Department as part of its probe of Gaetz that includes allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution.
Federal investigators are examining whether Gaetz engaged in a relationship with a woman that began when she was 17, according to people familiar with the investigation. The investigators have also pursued allegations from witnesses and other evidence that Gaetz may have used cash and drugs in his dealings with the young women.
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