Bob Kent said he did take part in an effort to solicit $25 million from Gaetz’s father, former Florida state Sen. Don Gaetz, but denied that the effort was extortion.
“I explained in no way was I trying to extort him and if he decided not to help he’d never hear from me again and I wouldn’t go to the press,” Kent said during an interview with Michael Smerconish’s radio show.
Documents published by the Washington Examiner outlined the alleged extortion scheme, which has been probed by the Department of Justice. The scheme involved asking Don Gaetz for $25 million to try to secure the release of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who was apprehended by Iranian authorities in 2007.
Text messages show Don Gaetz was presented with the effort, dubbed “Project Homecoming,” as part of a plan that would make his son’s “future legal and political problems go away.”
“Matt is more than welcome to attend the meeting but we are fine just to meet with you as my partner knows you are a man of your word and has a great deal of respect for you,” one message, signed Bob Kent, stated.
Kent said on CNN on Monday night that the message was sent by him.
“Matt Gaetz was in need, or if the allegations are true, he’s in need of some goodwill from the government. I’m in need of a sponsor to fund the rescue project,” Kent said when asked about the text.
“There is no threat. I don’t have anything to do with the indictment. I don’t have anything to do with the investigation into Matt Gaetz,” Kent added. “There were no threats, there were no demands.”
Kent’s partner has been named by Rep. Gaetz as Don McGee, a Florida lawyer who has not returned inquiries but who denied to the Daily Beast being part of an extortion attempt.
Kent told Smerconish that he hopes Don Gaetz was wearing a wire, as Rep. Gaetz asserted he was in a previous interview.
He also described the allegation that he attempted to extort the Gaetz family as “a fantasy that they concocted.”
Gaetz’s office hasn’t returned requests for comment. His communications director resigned last week, but he has said he will not step down. Gaetz says the recent articles about a supposed investigation into him having sex with a minor stemmed from the extortion racket.