Matt Gaetz is a Republican congressman who has been representing Florida’s first district since 2017. Prior to his election, Gaetz served in the Florida House of Representatives for about six years. He has been a vocal defender of President Donald Trump and was asked to speak during the 2020 Republican National Convention.
Here’s what you need to know about Gaetz’s family:
1. Matt Gaetz Revealed He Had a Teenage Son in June 2020
Matt Gaetz has never been married and prior to June 2020, his congressional biography did not mention that he had any children. But on June 18, Gaetz revealed he had been raising a son, Nestor Galban, for the past six years. Galban is now 19. Gaetz stated in the announcement on social media that “raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life.”
Galban moved to Florida from Cuba when he was 12, Gaetz explained to People. Gaetz was dating Galban’s older sister at the time. When Galban’s mother passed away from breast cancer, he moved in with Gaetz and his sister. Gaetz told the magazine that Galban continued to live with him even after the romantic relatinship with Galban’s sister ended. Gaetz added that although he never formally adopted the teen, he considers Galban his son.
For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida.
I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. pic.twitter.com/JB96wzOzYU
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) June 18, 2020
Gaetz made the revelation one day after a heated exchange with Rep. Cedric L. Richmond during a House Judiciary Committee meeting. Lawmakers were discussing police reform. Richmond, who is Black, said that the white lawmakers in the room couldn’t understand what it was like to raise a Black child. Gaetz countered by asking Richmond whether he was “certain that none of us have nonwhite children?” You can watch the clip here.
When Gaetz posted the selfie with Galban the following day, he added the following comment to the tweet: “As you can imagine, I was triggered when (to make an absurd debate point) a fellow congressman diminished the contributions of Republicans because we don’t raise non-white kids. Well, I have.” Galban also appeared alongside Gaetz during an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News that evening.
Galban later explained on his own Twitter account that he had wanted Gaetz to keep their relationship private from the public because Galban wanted a “normal” life. He also described Gaetz, whom he referred to as Matt, “the best dad/mentor anyone could ever ask for, he has taught me a lot, and I’m thankful to have him in my life.”
2. Erin Gaetz, a Video Producer, Describes Her Brother as a ‘Brash, Combative Loudmouth’ Whom She Is Deeply Proud of & Loves
Gaetz’s younger sister, Erin Gaetz, has written that she is deeply proud of her brother although their views do not always align. In an article for Spectator USA, which she included in her Instagram bio, Erin wrote that she is regularly trolled on social media because of her brother’s job in Congress. (The article was about how to handle internet trolls). Erin said of her brother:
Though, like most siblings, we don’t agree on everything, I love him and am deeply proud of him. Where you may see a brash, combative loudmouth, I see the brash, combative loudmouth who insisted to the neighborhood boys that I be allowed to play football with them — even though I was a scrawny, nine-year-old girl.
The Gaetz siblings grew up in northwestern Florida but according to her LinkedIn account, Erin has moved around since reaching adulthood. She studied history at the University of Virginia before accepting a job as an editorial producer for Major League Baseball.
After more than four years producing video content for the MLB, Erin went to work as an associate producer at MSNBC’s Morning Joe. She wrote on her LinkedIn profile that she produced segments on “politics, pop culture and sports.” In October 2013, Erin traded in MSNBC for Fox Business. She worked on the show Money with Melissa Francis for about a year and a half.
In May 2015, Erin got involved in politics. She worked for Jeb Bush’s primary campaign as the Director of Video Content. Once Bush dropped out of the race, Erin moved to Denver, Colorado, and launched her own digital media production company called Southpaw Content. The homepage of the company website includes an endorsement from Jeb Bush, who described Erin as “tremendously talented with a strong understanding of social media content and reach…clever and creative.”
Erin shared major personal news in mid-August: her daughter, Julia January, was born on August 21. Erin wrote on Twitter that her newborn was “the best thing I’ll ever do.” Erin also shared earlier in August that she had relocated back to Florida.
3. Don Gaetz Served in the Florida Senate for 10 Years
Matt Gaetz continued a family tradition when he got involved in politics. His father, Don Gaetz, served in the Florida Senate from 2006 until 2016. He was the president of the Senate for two of those years, from 2012 to 2014.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, critics have claimed that Don Gaetz’s political standing may have benefited his son when Matt was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of DUI when he was 26 years old. The charges were eventually dropped.
Outside of politics, the elder Gaetz has had a long career as a health care executive. Don Gaetz founded the non-profit company Hospice Care Inc. in 1978. The company became a for-profit enterprise in 1984, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and the name was changed to Vitas Healthcare in 1992.
Gaetz sold the company to Chemed in 2004. In 2013, Vitas Hospice Services faced a federal lawsuit alleging that company leaders had engaged in Medicaid fraud for more than a decade. Gaetz insisted at the time that the issues addressed by the Department of Justice occurred after he had sold the company and his shares in it.
According to a Florida Commission on Ethics bio, Don Gaetz later served as the president of a personal care services company called Caregivers, Inc. The bio adds that he also served as a chairman of the Okaloosa County School Board before being elected as the superintendent.
4. Gaetz’s Mother, Victoria, Is a Retired Pharmacist
Here’s one of my favorite family photos from a few Easters ago. My dad, Matt and Nestor planting a smooch on my mama! pic.twitter.com/6iE2J0jwSE
— Erin Gaetz (@ErinGaetz) June 18, 2020
Both of Gaetz’s parents worked in the health care sector. His mother, Victoria Quertermous Gaetz, was a licensed pharmacist for more than 20 years in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Health, she earned her pharmacist license in 1976 and it expired in 1997.
Victoria’s experience during her second pregnancy likely influenced her son’s anti-abortion stance. According to the Washington Post, Victoria “suffered severe complications” when she was carrying her daughter, Erin, and the doctor advised that she have an abortion. Victoria decided to continue with the pregnancy. She has gotten around in a wheelchair ever since.
Victoria is a northwestern Florida native. Victoria lists Fort Walton Beach as her hometown on her Facebook page. She graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in Destin, Florida, before attending the University of Florida. Property records in Okaloosa County show she and her husband own properties in both Destin and Niceville, Florida.
5. Gaetz’s Grandfather, Jerry, Was Nominated for Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota But Died at the State Convention
Stanley Jerome “Jerry” Gaetz is a legendary figure in the Gaetz family. The patriarch was a railway manager in Rugby, North Dakota, according to the Associated Press. He served as the city’s mayor from 1958 until 1964 and referred to himself as “North Dakota’s most progressive mayor.” His campaign slogan was “Unbought, unbossed, unbowed.”
Jerry served as a state senator before he ran for lieutenant governor in 1964. But tragedy struck during the Republican state convention. Jerry suffered a fatal heart attack moments after he finished his speech at the event. His son, Don Gaetz, was 16 at the time and watched his father collapse on television. Don said in interviews years later that he decided to get involved in politics in order to “finish my father’s work.”