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Spokesman for Matt Gaetz Quits Amid Justice Dept. Inquiry

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The spokesman for Representative Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican under federal investigation into whether he violated laws against sex trafficking, has abruptly resigned amid mounting scrutiny of his boss, the congressman’s office confirmed on Friday.

Luke Ball, a longtime aide to Mr. Gaetz who was serving as his communications director, did not publicly give a reason for his departure and could not immediately be reached for comment. As recently as this week, he had been helping Mr. Gaetz mount a defense against the newly disclosed Justice Department investigation.

“The Office of Congressman Matt Gaetz and Luke Ball have agreed that it would be best to part ways,” the office said in a brief statement relayed by Mr. Gaetz’s chief of staff. “We thank him for his time in our office, and we wish him the best moving forward.”

Mr. Ball had worked with Mr. Gaetz, a third-term congressman representing the Florida Panhandle, since he first began serving in the House in 2017, earning a reputation as one of Mr. Gaetz’s closest aides. Starting as a part-time staff member in the congressman’s Pensacola office, Mr. Ball later became Mr. Gaetz’s deputy campaign manager in 2018 and then his press secretary and communications director in Washington.

The New York Times first reported this week that the Justice Department has been investigating whether Mr. Gaetz, 38, had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received anything of value. Then on Thursday, The Times reported that the inquiry was broader and investigators were examining involvement by the congressman and an indicted Florida associate with women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.

Mr. Gaetz has denied paying for sex or having sex with a minor. He has undertaken a media blitz in recent days to shift attention to what he claims was a plot to extort his family of $25 million to make his legal liability “go away.”

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