Rep. Matt Gaetz, the bombastic Republican congressman for Florida's 1st District, disclosed on Thursday he has a "son" who emigrated from Cuba and was taken in by Gaetz's family when the boy lost his mother at age 12.
"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," Gaetz tweeted midday Thursday. "I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life."
Gaetz, who is not married, has trolled his online followers before, wearing a gas mask in Congress to mock the coronavirus outbreak and saying he enjoys being called a "tool," among other contrived controversies. The 38-year-old Gaetz shared Nestor Galban's existence with the world following a heated House debate with Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana.
Christmas Eve 2013. Nestor and Rep. Santa Claus (R-North Pole). pic.twitter.com/zgM2JZjw1f— Erin Gaetz (@ErinGaetz) June 18, 2020
Richmond, who is Black, was making remarks about the Justice in Policing Act saying, "to my colleagues, especially the ones who keep introducing amendments that are a tangent and a distraction to what we are talking about, you all are white males, you have never lived in my shoes and you do not know what it is like to be an African American male."
Gaetz asked Richmond if he was insinuating that Republican congressmen did not have any "non-white" children, to which Richmond quickly responded, "Matt, I am not about to get sidetracked about the color of our children. I reclaim my time!"
"Please don't come in this committee room and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community," Richmond said, later acknowledging that people on "the other side had black grand children," but that the discussion was not about the color of their children's skin.
Gaetz's revelation about Galban came after social media users began ridiculing him over the exchange, so it's natural to wonder if the story is is true or just another stunt. It could be both, since Galban's history appears to be real.
In Dec. 2017, Matt Gaetz refers to his Cuban son, Nestor, as his “helper.” pic.twitter.com/XsA3VOIRHq— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) June 18, 2020
Gaetz's sister, Erin, took to Twitter after her brother's revelation to say how Galban joined their family after his mother died.
"Nestor came into our lives when he was 12 and had just lost his mother. He didn't speak English, but luckily, Matt speaks Spanish," she tweeted, along with photos of Galban and their family, including one of Gaetz dressed as Santa Claus.
When a Twitter user named Winnie Chester asked, "hmmmm why all the secrecy, erin?" Gaetz's sister responded, "Because of assholes like you, Winnie."
Still, social media was abuzz with questions about the timing of Gaetz's reveal, especially after being ridiculed for his interaction with Richmond.
Former California congresswoman and Democrat Katie Hill also backed up Gaetz on Twitter, writing, "many of you know @mattgaetz & I have an unlikely friendship. I can’t stand a lot of his beliefs but he’s been there for me when others haven’t. He talks about Nestor more than anything, has done so much for his son & is truly a proud dad. This #freenestor thing is bullshit. Stop."
In a followup to the same thread, Hill wrote, "also he was never 'hiding' his son. He was trying to protect him from the crap that comes from being a politician’s kid, esp after what Nestor had been through, esp in this political climate. Now that Nestor is grown he’s made his own choice to enter the spotlight. Good for them."
Comedian and political commenter W. Kamau Bell posted a Wikipedia screenshot about Gaetz on Twitter, writing "Matt Gaetz has a PARAGRAPH on his Wiki bio about growing up in the house from The Truman Show, but ZERO about the 12 y/o boy he adopted in 2013. & Gaetz is only publicly acknowledging his son because he got punked by Rep. Richmond. This poses way more questions than it answers.🤔"
In social media posts on Thursday, Gaetz was called out for identifying Galban as a student and Florida House page in 2016, and for referring to "my s– my helper, Nestor here," in a 2017 social media video.
There's no word yet on whether Gaetz has legally adopted Galban, but it doesn't really matter. Gaetz has a history of exploiting human beings for political points, including inviting an accused white nationalist and Holocaust denier to the State of the Union, and casting the only "No" vote on a bipartisan 2017 human trafficking bill that passed unanimously in the Senate. He's publicly doubted whether Washington Post correspondent Jamal Khashoggi was really a journalist after his murder, and is even accused of creating a sex game with "points" for sleeping with congressional staffers.
If it really took Gaetz six years until he used Galban as a political prop, that's a sick but sincere sign of love by the troubled Panhandle congressman.
Updated at 6:45 p.m. | Twitter commenters are sharing screenshots of Gaetz referring to Nestor Galban in 2017 as "my helper" in a video, and of a post calling Galban one of two "students" visiting the Florida capitol as pages. Two posts have been added above.
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.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) June 18, 2020
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
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