Matt Gaetz ‘Freedom Tour’ heads to Largo Saturday. Will Anna Paulina Luna join him?
Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna.

Gaetz Anna Paulina Luna

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is coming to Largo on Saturday as part of the Congressman’s ‘Freedom Tour’ — a speaking trip Gaetz embarked on amid a federal investigation of sex trafficking a minor.

The Largo stop, which is set for 6 p.m. at the Conservative Grounds, is part of a series of rallies that kicked off in Arizona in May. Gaetz is joined by controversial Georgia Republican Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene on the tour.

But, his visit to Pinellas County raises questions about another Congressional seat — Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

In 2019, Gaetz endorsed CD 13 candidate Anna Paulina Luna, a vocal, pro-Trump conservative who went on to face incumbent Rep. Charlie Crist in the 2020 General Election.

Now, Luna is running for the seat again, which will be open and up for election in 2022. But, will she receive the same support from Gaetz as she did previously? And does she even want his support?

His endorsement likely boosted her initial campaign among Republicans, when Gaetz had emerged as a national voice supporting former President Donald Trump during impeachment proceedings.

That was before news came out in 2021 that Gaetz is involved in a federal investigation into whether he was sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl.

Gaetz, who hasn’t been charged with a crime, has consistently denied accusations he was involved in sex trafficking a teenager across state lines or ever paying for sex. That’s despite reports of a paper trail of financial transactions, some through Greenberg, of cash being sent to young women.

Sources familiar with the case have said charges against Gaetz could come this month. Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, a central figure in the scandal believed to be cooperating, was granted a 90-day delay for sentencing after pleading guilty to sex trafficking of a child and five other felonies.

The flurry surrounding the initial news of the investigation led to many previous associates of Gaetz to distance themselves from the Congressman. But, not Luna — at least not initially.

“@RepMattGaetz is one of the TOP conservatives in our country. I believe a bureaucrat would try to take him down. @mattgaetz is my friend. He has only ever been extremely respectful and kind to both my husband and myself. #IbelieveGaetz,” Luna says in one post in response to Gaetz calling the investigation an extortion job.

And, in an email to Florida Politics, Luna’s campaign maintains that she still stands by that statement.

“Her prior statement about the Congressman stands,” her campaign told Florida Politics, in reference to the previous tweet about Gaetz. “Nothing has changed.”

Luna’s Primary Election opponent, political strategist Amanda Makki, was also a subject of one of Gaetz’s tweets reposted by Luna. In that post, Gaetz writes, “Makki is a forever-swamper, turned lobbyist. The good folks of Pinellas County already had to endure RINO David Jolly. Makki is Jolly 2.0. @realannapaulina is the #AmericaFirst candidate who can win this race and help @realDonaldTrump Bring America Back!”

Now deleted, along with almost all other tweets before April 26, it’s unclear if Luna still associates with Gaetz. Even more unclear — whether Luna will be seeking an endorsement from the Congressman.

According to an email from Luna’s campaign to Florida Politics, Luna’s tweets autodelete after a certain period of time, providing an explanation for the deleted posts. As far as her attendance, her campaign wrote that she is not in town, so will not be there.

Makki, who entered the race last Tuesday ditching the moderate label and diving in head first into Trump territory, has no plans to seek out an endorsement from Gaetz, her campaign wrote in an email to Florida Politics.

“Amanda has no plans to ask for, nor does she have any reason to expect an endorsement from Rep. Gaetz. The endorsements that count are the voters of CD 13,” her campaign said. “

She also won’t be attending the event, as her schedule is filled. In a statement sent to Florida Politics, Makki compared Luna’s separation from Gaetz to that of Trump.

“Anna Paulina Luna’s tweets show her clear defense of Rep. Gaetz which she then attempted to hide by deleting them and abandoning Rep. Gaetz like she did President Trump in the general election last year,” Makki said in a statement. “This is the latest in a pattern of Luna’s phony and opportunistic moves that go back to a now-deleted blog post where she called herself ‘a two time very avid supporter of Obama in my early years and considered myself a Democrat.'”

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


4 comments

  • Matthew Lusk

    July 29, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Big government is a trillion dollar industry. Of course Marxists and the intelligence agencies will counter all true patriots no matter that it’s a Republican primary. Notice RINOs are very common but DINOs are not. Why is this? Because true American Patriots never run in the Democrat Party. I think Virgil Goode was the last patriotic congressman running as a Democrat about 20 years ago. Marxist infiltrators will run in Republican primaries posing as conservative. Its up to primary voters to choose well and run if all possible. Whose to say there’s not more than one Marxist vying for the same seat on any individual primary. Please step up and run if there is a void in your district.

  • Matthew Lusk

    July 29, 2021 at 11:58 am

    Makki claims to have worked 7 years for Murkowski. If that is not a RINO ALERT, I do not know what is. DING DING DING DING!

  • Matthew Lusk

    July 29, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    I have perused the candidates for the 13th district. It is wide open and void of a patriotic candidate. All candidates are vague on issues and a bit affected in personality. There is no conservative among the republican. opportunists abound. Will someone please step up. Don’t let clandestine agents or the clueless just walk right into power over your life. Is there a single Christian in the whole district willing to stand up?

  • Kyle Hallett

    August 1, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    The biggest Ring is Donald Trump. He is a conman, a racist and his supporters are being lied to. Real Republicans know his is a conman, it is the Rinos like Gaetz that are not smart enough to figure it out.

Comments are closed.


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