Born In: Hollywood, Florida, United States
Matt Gaetz is an American lawyer and politician who has served as the U.S. representative for Florida's 1st congressional district since 2017. He is the son of prominent Florida politician Don Gaetz, who was a Member of the Florida Senate from 2006 to 2016. He previously served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2010 until 2016, during which period he received national attention for defending Florida's controversial "stand-your-ground law". Prior to that, he practiced law at the law firm Keefe, Anchors & Gordon since graduating from William & Mary Law School in 2007. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 1st district in 2016, and was later re-elected in 2018 and 2020. A Republican politician and a proponent of far-right politics, he is well known for being a staunch supporter and an ally of former president Donald Trump. He has been accused of agitating the public with false claims of the 2020 election being stolen from Donald Trump and even defended people’s right to “armed rebellion against the government” in the wake of a pro-Trump mob attacking the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which he had initially blamed on “violent terrorist group antifa”. Since 2020, he has been under investigation for his alleged pay-for-sex relationship with a 17-year-old girl, apart from various other investigations by the House Ethics Committee.
Also Known As: Matthew Louis Gaetz II
Spouse/Ex-: Ginger Luckey (m. 2021)
father: Don Gaetz
mother: Victoria Gaetz
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: Florida
education: Florida State University, College of William & Mary, Niceville High School, William & Mary Law School
Matthew “Matt” Louis Gaetz II was born on May 7, 1982, in Hollywood, Florida, United States to Victoria and Don Gaetz. His father later became a Member of the Florida Senate in 2006 and was President of the Florida Senate from 2012 to 2014.
His grandfather, Stanley Jerome Gaetz, was the mayor of Rugby, North Dakota and a candidate for lieutenant governor of North Dakota at the 1964 North Dakota Republican Party state convention. Matt has a sister named Erin who has served as the director of digital content for Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential campaign.
He grew up near Fort Walton Beach and attended Niceville High School before graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary sciences from Florida State University in 2003. He subsequently went to the William & Mary Law School, from where he obtained his Juris Doctor degree in 2007.
Upon completing education, he was admitted to the Florida Bar on February 6, 2008, but the bar suspended him from practicing law in October 2021 due to unpaid fees. He has also worked at the law firm Keefe, Anchors & Gordon (now AnchorsGordon) in Fort Walton Beach.
Matt Gaetz decided to run in the special election to succeed Republican state representative Ray Sansom in the 4th district, after the latter resigned following corruption charges in February 2010. He won the Republican primary by securing 43 percent of the vote and successfully defeated Craig Barker, Kabe Woods, Jerry G. Melvin, and Bill Garvie.
He went on to secure 66 percent of the vote in the special general election, where he defeated Democratic nominee Jan Fernald. He remained unopposed for a full term in 2010, and after Santa Rosa County was removed from his district following the reconfiguration of Florida House of Representatives districts in 2012, he was reelected unopposed in 2012 and 2014.
He had announced in 2013 that he would run for the 1st district State Senate seat that his father, Don Gaetz, would vacate in 2016 due to reaching term limits. However, he later withdrew to instead run for the U.S. House seat representing Florida's 1st congressional district after incumbent Jeff Miller announced not seeking reelection.
He won the Republican primary with 35.7 percent of the votes and went on to defeat Democratic nominee Steven Specht with 69 percent of the vote in the November 8 general election. He subsequently resigned from two Florida House political action committees that he had started and chaired.
While serving in the Florida House of Representatives from 2010 to 2016, Matt Gaetz received national attention after announcing even before hearings started on Florida's controversial “stand-your-ground law” that he would not support changing it. Gaetz, who was the chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, authored legislation after the hearings to allow successful defendants to expunge relevant information from their criminal records.
As U.S. House of Representatives member, he invited alt-right Holocaust denier Charles C. Johnson, who had previously raised money for the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, to attend Donald Trump's State of the Union address. He subsequently defended Johnson in an interview stating he was neither a Holocaust denier nor a white supremacist.
In the wake of the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol, he was accused of unnecessarily "putting people in jeopardy" by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on a phone call on January 10th. He repeated debunked claims of fraud in the 2020 election during his nationwide "America First Tour" in May 2021, apart from claiming that the Second Amendment allowed “armed rebellion against the government, if that becomes necessary”.
He was accused of attempting to intimidate Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, after he implied, without any evidence, in a tweet that Cohen had had multiple extramarital affairs, and that his wife might be unfaithful while he was imprisoned. While he initially defended the tweet, he had to delete it later, and the House Oversight Committee, as well as the Florida Bar later opened investigations into Gaetz for the tweet.
In August 2020, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into Gaetz’s alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in exchange for money in violation of federal sex trafficking laws. Investigators found that he had close associations with Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, who produced fake IDs at a government office, met women through a website for sex and introduced them to Gaetz.
He again drew attention of the Ethics Committee for spending tens of thousands of dollars for a speech-writing consultant and having a private company install a television studio in his father's home in Niceville, Florida. The Ethics Committee received complaints against Gaetz and other Republican lawmakers who had enlisted others to vote for them citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in February 2021, while actually attending the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Following an argument with then-Representative Cedric Richmond in February 2020, Matt Gaetz revealed that he had been living with a 19-year-old immigrant from Cuba, Nestor Galbán, since the latter was 12. He later clarified that Galbán was the brother of his ex-girlfriend with whom he is not related genetically or legally, stating “Our relationship as a family is defined by our love for each other, not by any paperwork."
He announced his engagement to his girlfriend, Ginger Luckey, who is the sister of Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey, a major Republican donor. The two got married in a small ceremony on Catalina Island, California, in August 2021.
Matt Gaetz wrote the book, Firebrand: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the MAGA, in 2020 and started the Firebrand with Matt Gaetz Podcast the following year. Through both, he criticized former House Speaker Paul Ryan for joining the board of Fox News's parent company and blamed him for canceling the political talk show, Lou Dobbs Tonight.
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