Meet the Craziest Politician in Florida: Joel Greenberg
The Joel Greenberg and Matt Gaetz scandal is now national: here are the key takeaways from a local
In the past few weeks, two names have been all over the national news twenty-four seven. Those names are Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. As the allegations against them ramp up, the national media is just now catching wind of the craziness that we’ve been reading about here in Florida for over a year.
It’s a scandal eerily reminiscent of the one that brought down the disgraced millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, complete with children being flown on private planes to accompany adults while they engage in unethical — not to mention illegal — behavior.
It all began back in 2016, with the rise of Trump politics, when Joel Greenberg was elected as the tax collector of Seminole County, Florida. His rise to political victory was nothing shy of meteoric, just like that of Trump, as he defeated the local tax collector, Ray Valdez, who had been the county’s tax collector for almost thirty years.
The Trump revolution seemed in full swing and Greenberg hitched his ride on the Trump train. But along with the rise of Trump-like politics came a similar slew of problems that began shortly thereafter in 2017.
Sex Trafficking and Fake IDs
It’s then that Greenberg allegedly began printing fake IDs for at least one underage girl in order to establish and maintain a sexual relationship with her. As the local tax collector, part of his job is to issue state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses for the residents of his county. And he perverted that power entrusted to him so he could get have sex with a minor, or so the charges brought against him suggest.
It’s believed that at this point, Greenberg traveled with the underage girl, possibly doing drugs with her, including ecstasy, and established a “sugar daddy” relationship with her, giving her money in exchange for sexual favors.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg — or Greenberg — whichever you prefer.
Impersonating a Police Officer
Later in December of 2017, Greenberg used his state-issued tax collector badge to impersonate a police officer, pulling people over on the road. He told the driver they were speeding. What this was all about, I’m not really sure, but it strikes me as the kind of behavior that someone drunk with power would indulge in.
Ripping off the Taxpayers
And then came the wedding. It was time for Joel Greenberg to get married, so he spent $677,000 dollars of taxpayer money on three of his groomsmen, essentially giving them the cash for a lavish wedding, in 2019.
An Orlando Sentinel report then dropped that he spent $384,000 more to purchase guns, ammunition, and a drone, as well as body armor, also in 2019.
In the report, it states that since January of 2017, his very first days in office, he issued $1,068,000 in contracts with consulting friends that the county office didn’t even need. So basically he wrote contracts to friends to give them taxpayer money for no other reason than to enrich people.
Greenberg was eventually arrested and brought up on 16 charges related to the underage girl, the fake IDs, and what federal officials are calling sex trafficking, in 2020.
But not before an even more bizarre twist of fate happened…
Accusations Aren’t Always What They Seem
A local school teacher named Brian Beute was one of the four people who challenged Greenberg for the office of Seminole County Tax Collector in the 2020 election. A challenger to the throne was inevitable. But what happened next is truly mind-blowing.
Shortly after rivals joined the race against Greenberg, accusations surfaced that Brian Beute, the main challenger against Greenberg, had been molesting nine school children at the Seminole County school where he worked.
At first, it seemed damning. Nobody recovers from hard evidence that you’ve been molesting kids as a politician. And the evidence was strong.
There were letters from several students to the school (where Brian Beute worked) stating that Beute had touched them sexually. A school teacher who worked at the school also sent a letter to the school, backing up the students’ accusations, claiming he’d seen Beute touching kids inappropriately.
But something was a bit off about the whole ordeal. And the truth would soon come to light…
After nine of such letters appeared in the school’s mailbox an investigation was conducted. The only problem? The investigation revealed that the students in question didn’t send the letters.
So who did?
The FBI was called in and conducted their own investigation to find out what was going on. DNA and fingerprints were extracted from the letters and scanned, and they had a match: Joel Greenberg.
Ever the audacious, it was Greenberg himself who sent letters to the school where Brian Beute worked, in a bid to take out his political rival. He wanted to destroy Brian Beute’s reputation by making him out to be a child molester.
He tried to frame him.
In the letters, it was Greenberg who was posing as the “concerned teacher” who worked at the same school, claiming he knew that Beuete was having sexual relations with children at the school. Greenberg then even sent the letters posing to be students of the school, claiming to have been sexually molested by Beute.
On top of all this, Greenberg created a Twitter account under Brian Beute’s name and spewed off white supremacist slurs, following white supremacist sites, and basically rallying up Nazi affiliations wherever he could to try and tar Beute as a Nazi-sympathizer.
He did the same on Facebook and other social media platforms. Instead of running a Greenberg 2020 campaign, Joel Greenberg ran a Beute 2020 campaign, posing to be Beute and intending to drive his name into the ground.
Arrested and brought up on charges, Joel Greenberg was granted a bond and made bail. He was out on conditional release where he was to wait for his trial, but not for long. Joel was ordered to stay in the county. His wife left and drive some five hours away, to Jupiter, Florida. Joel Greenberg stalked her and followed her all the way down there. He was then arrested for stalking her, as well.
Wrapping it All Up
At this point of the investigation, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz enters the mix, which is when the national media took the story and ran with it. While Gaetz wasn’t involved in the smearing of political rivals or the wife-stalking, that we know of, federal investigators believe it’s the child sex, a fake-ID-and-drug-use scandal that Gaetz was a part of.
Gaetz called Greenberg his “wingman,” a damning term to use with someone who’s not brought up no charges for having sex with underage girls.
Matt Gaetz is under investigation and Joel Greenberg is under federal indictment. It seems the coming years are about to be very, very bad for both men.
Disclosure: Joel Greenberg was my tax collector. No, I don’t know him, though, judging by the looks of things, I’m very glad that’s the case. Joel Greenberg has yet to stand trial and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.