News & Politics

8 Wild Things You May Have Forgotten About the Florida Man Ensnared in Congress’s Latest Sex Scandal

A quick refresher on the star of Gaetzgate.

Photo by Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

We’re now on day three of Gaetzgate, the mind-bending saga involving Florida congressman Matt Gaetz that has somehow come to include alleged nude photos on the floor of Congress, hula hoops, and a “Costco-sized” box of condoms. The unfolding tale is perhaps the most bizarre—and grotesque—scandal to hit the Hill in recent years. At this point, can you even remember who Matt Gaetz is? A quick refresher:

He has a 19-year-old son

Last year the 38-year-old Florida Republican revealed he had a son named Nestor Galban after Louisiana representative Cedric Richmond noted that white lawmakers do not understand the experience of raising a child of color. In response, Gaetz shared that he has been raising Galban, an immigrant from Cuba, since the boy was 12 years old.  The pair met through Galban’s elder sister, whom Gaetz was dating at the time. With the exception of a brief period after Gaetz and Galban’s sister broke off their relationship, the Troy University student has lived with Gaetz in Florida. Although he has never been legally adopted, Gaetz told People that Galban “is my son in every conceivable way, and I can’t imagine loving him any more if he was my own flesh and blood.”

He wore a gas mask on the House floor

The congressman donned a gas mask during last year’s House vote on a coronavirus response package, before the pandemic took hold. At the time, some critiqued Gaetz’s attire as diminishing the seriousness of the virus. Just five days later, Gaetz announced he was self-quarantining after exposure to a positive case at CPAC. (Later in the year, he tested positive for Cvoid antibodies.)

He grew up in the Truman Show house

Yes, the made-for-TV congressman literally grew up in the picturesque home belonging to Jim Carrey’s character in the Truman Show. The Florida rep was 15 years old when the movie was shot in his parent’s Seaside home, which still bares a sign stating “the Truman House” on its white picket fence. According to a Vanity Fair profile, the experience left quite the impression: “I grew up in the house Jim Carrey lived in in The Truman Show,” wrote Gaetz. “I know that all the world’s a stage, especially when we all have cameras with phones.”

He tweeted weird stuff at Michael Cohen

A day prior to Michael Cohen’s public testimony during the 2019 impeachment proceedings of President Trump, Gaetz threw shade at Trump’s former lawyer in a now-deleted Tweet:

Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…

The social media statement drew accusations of witness tampering, and Gaetz later apologized, also by Tweet.

He’s tangled with law enforcement

Before his tenure in Congress, Gaetz, then 28 and a lawyer, was arrested in in Florida in 2008 for driving under the influence. Gaetz reportedly failed two eye tests before refusing sobriety and breath tests. He was arrested, but charges were later dismissed. Gaetz was cruising back from a club called “Swamp” when the incident occurred. The congressman doesn’t have a stellar history when it comes to driving within the law: Between 1999 and 2014, the congressman racked up 16 speeding tickets.

He filed an ethics complaint against Nancy Pelosi for bad decorum

It’s hard to forget the dramatic moment Nancy Pelosi tore up Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last year, right after the former President finished his speech. A day later, Gaetz announced he was filing an ethics complaint against the Speaker of the House. Ever the warrior for decorum, Gaetz tweeted Pelosi’s actions were “beneath the dignity of the House.”

He led a breach of the secure Capitol facility where classified info is shared

The Florida rep stormed a deposition in the Capitol’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), leading House Republicans into the secret area in October 2019. Gaetz and his posse were attempting to attend the closed testimony of an official speaking during Trump’s impeachment process. The impasse lasted five hours and was widely considered a risk to national security. Many of the lawmakers barged in with cell phones, a major no-no in the SCIF.

He is engaged

The Florida man is engaged to Ginger Luckey, a Harvard Business School student who works in food and sustainability. Gaetz met his 26-year-old fiancée last March at the winter White House, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, and they got engaged there on December 30. Their forthcoming wedding just might be as theatrical as the groom himself: “Matt wants an Elvis impersonator to preside,” Luckey told the Daily Mail.

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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.