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Matthew Louis Gaetz II[1] (/ɡts/ "gates"; born May 7, 1982) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 1st congressional district since 2017, where he serves on the Budget, Armed Services, and Judiciary Committees. He is a member of the Republican Party. Prior to serving in Congress he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 4th District, which includes most of Okaloosa County, from 2010 to 2016. He has also worked as an attorney in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Matt Gaetz
Matt Gaetz.png
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded byJeff Miller
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 4th district
In office
April 13, 2010 – November 8, 2016
Preceded byRay Sansom
Succeeded byMel Ponder
Personal details
Matthew Louis Gaetz II

(1982-05-07) May 7, 1982 (age 36)
Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationFlorida State University (BS)
College of William and Mary (JD)
WebsiteHouse website


Early life and educationEdit

Gaetz was born in Hollywood, Florida, to Victoria "Vicky" (Quertermous) and politician Don Gaetz, and grew up in the Fort Walton Beach, Florida area.[2][3] He graduated from Florida State University in 2003 and from The College of William and Mary in 2007 with a juris doctor.[4]

Florida House of RepresentativesEdit

Gaetz with Rick Scott in 2010

In 2010, following the resignation of Republican State Representative Ray Sansom due to corruption charges,[5] Gaetz ran in the special election to succeed Sansom in the 4th District, which included southern Santa Rosa County and Okaloosa County. In a crowded Republican primary that included Craig Barker, Kabe Woods, Jerry G. Melvin, and Bill Garvie, Gaetz emerged victorious with 43% of the vote. In the special general election, Gaetz defeated Democratic nominee Jan Fernald, winning 66% of the vote. He was unopposed for a full term in 2010. In 2012, following the reconfiguration of Florida House of Representatives districts, Gaetz's district lost its share of Santa Rosa County. He was reelected in unopposed contests in 2012 and 2014.

While serving in the state house, Gaetz joined with State Senator Joe Negron to propose legislation "designed to accelerate the execution of many of the 404 inmates on Florida's death row" by requiring the Governor to sign a death warrant for those inmates who have exhausted their appeals,[6] noting, "Only God can judge. But we can sure set up the meeting."[7] He also joined forces with State Senator Greg Evers to repeal legislation that requires that 10% of gasoline sold in Florida contain ethanol, saying, "This is the bill that removes and repeals Florida's burdensome ethanol mandate."[8]

Following the trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Will Weatherford, the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, announced that he would order hearings on the "stand-your-ground" law that was raised as an issue during the trial.[9] Gaetz, the Chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, was tasked with reviewing the legislation, and announced before hearings that he would not support changing "one damn comma," though he indicated that he would listen to both sides' testimony during the hearings.[10] Following the conclusion of the hearings, he authored legislation that would allow defendants who successfully used a "stand your ground" defense during their trial "to apply for a 'certificate of eligibility' to expunge information related to 'stand your ground' from their criminal records."[11]

When his subcommittee was considering legislation that would "keep mug shots of people who are charged with crimes off the Internet until they are convicted," Gaetz brought up his 2008 arrest for driving under the influence, arguing that his mistakes made him who he is and that publicly available mug shots "could be a problem for those unaccustomed to publicity."[12]

2016 Florida Senate and U.S. House racesEdit

In 2013, Gaetz announced that in 2016 he would run for the 1st district state senate seat then held by his father, State Senator Don Gaetz. His father was due to be term-limited out of the Senate in 2016.[13] On March 21, 2016, Gaetz withdrew from the state race to run for the U.S. House seat representing Florida's 1st congressional district, since the incumbent, Jeff Miller, had announced on March 10 he would not seek reelection.[14]

On August 30, 2016, Gaetz won the Republican primary for the 1st congressional district with 35.7% of the vote – defeating Greg Evers (21.5%), Cris Dosev (20.6%), and five other candidates.[15] This effectively clinched the seat as the 1st district is the most Republican district in Florida and one of the most Republican districts in the nation. In the November 8, 2016, general election, Gaetz defeated Democratic candidate Steven Specht with 69 percent of the vote.[16]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Matt Gaetz speaking at a celebration for the completion of the US 98 interchange

On September 25, 2016, following the death of Miami Marlins' pitcher José Fernández, Gaetz criticized the athletes protesting during the national anthem in a tweet: "To all who will kneel during the anthem today – just remember how José Fernández risked his life just for the chance to stand for it".[17][18]

In Congress, Gaetz is a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus, which seeks to find bipartisan, regulatory solutions to global warming.[19][20]

Previously, Gaetz was listed online as a member of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership from at least January to June 2017.[21][22][23]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Political positionsEdit

Gun policyEdit

Gaetz has been called "one of the most pro-gun members to have ever served in the Florida Legislature" by former NRA president Marion Hammer.[25] Gaetz is a "Lifetime Member" of the NRA,[25] and accepted $1,000 USD in campaign donations from the NRA's Political Victory Fund in 2015–2016.[26] Gaetz has an A+ rating from the NRA—its highest rating.[27]

When Gaetz served in the Florida House of Representatives, he led an effort to allow Floridians with concealed-weapons permits to carry those weapons openly in public,[28] which was ultimately unsuccessful. In lobbying for the passage of the bill, Gaetz claimed that the open carry of weapons was a right "granted not by government but by God."[29][30] Gaetz supports Florida's stand-your-ground law and supported legislation that strengthened it against legal challenges.[31] Gaetz also supports concealed carry reciprocity.[31]

Russia investigationEdit

Special Counsel investigationEdit

In November 2017 Gaetz introduced a congressional resolution calling for Robert Mueller to recuse himself as Special Counsel due to conflicts of interest.[32] In the resolution Gaetz also asked for a Special Counsel investigation into the handling of the Hillary Clinton email controversy by the FBI, undue interference of Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the investigation, and the acquisition of Uranium One by the Russian state corporation Rosatom during Mueller's time as FBI director.[33][34] Gaetz stated that he did not trust him to lead the investigation because of Mueller's alleged involvement in approval of the Uranium One deal and Mueller's close relationship with the dismissed FBI director James Comey, a probable person of interest in the proposed investigation.[35][36] After Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan's denials of awareness of the sexual abuse of Ohio State University wrestlers during the period when Jordan was a coach there, Gaetz inferred the allegations were intended to damage Jordan's criticism of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[37] Jordan's congressional office released a statement by the wrestling team’s former head coach Russ Hellickson in which both he and Jordan denied knowing about the abuse.[38]

Gaetz firmly believes in the conspiracy theory of the "Deep State", and claimed that AG Jeff Sessions is "sympathetic" to it.[39]


Gaetz supports rescheduling cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug, enabling further research and expanded use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.[40] In September 2017, he keynoted the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association's annual conference.[41] In 2015 sponsored a House bill to expand Florida's Right to Try Act to include medical marijuana.[42][43] The bill as amended was approved by the governor in March 2016.[44]

Donald TrumpEdit

In April 2018, Politico described Gaetz as "one of the most enthusiastic defenders of President Trump on cable news" and a "proud Trump protege".[45]

On February 23, 2017, Gaetz, worried about protesters disrupting him from being able to speak at his town hall in Pace, Florida, prepared what his staffers called "the 'non-verbal town hall,' reminiscent of a scene from the movie Love Actually. Gaetz has printed out part of a speech that gets some of his message across onto giant boards that he will hold up if he is unable to get a word in."[46] One of the heavy signs prepared for Gaetz to hold up during the anticipated loud moments was printed "Professional Liberal Protestors".[46] Gaetz arrived 30 minutes late to the Pace town hall and faced at least 500 constituents crowded into the Oops Bowling Alley, where he was grilled about his relationship with Trump, his stance on repealing the Affordable Care Act, and his proposal to abolish the EPA. He managed to surprise the audience and garner a rare round of applause when he said, "Absolutely, Donald Trump should release his tax returns." But he stopped short of saying Congress should subpoena those returns. Gaetz closed his town hall by shouting "Make America Great Again" over roaring opposition from the crowd.[47][48][49]


Tax reformEdit

Gaetz voted in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[50] He acknowledged that the bill's pass-through tax deduction would benefit President Trump, and added, "but so many Americans benefit when commercial real estate becomes easier and more accessible."[51]


In 2016, Gaetz acknowledged global warming but said he disagrees with the scientific consensus on climate change that human activity is the primary cause. Gaetz said "In our fervor to protect the environment, we lose sight of economic and scientific reality."[52] The Center for American Progress and Vice Media said Gaetz was a climate change denier citing his 2016 statements.[53][54] In November 2017 Gaetz joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. He said, "I don't think there's a scientific debate left to be had on if it is happening. I also think history is going to judge very harshly climate change deniers, and I don't want to be one of them." He said that he advocates technological innovation and economic incentives that address climate change, and increased federal funds for global warming research by NASA, NOAA and universities, but that he remains opposed to increased environmental regulation.[55]

In the Florida House Gaetz led successful efforts to repeal gasoline ethanol content mandates.[56][57]

In 2017, Gaetz proposed legislation to "completely abolish" the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He said, "our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans. It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently."[56][58]

Health careEdit

In October 2017, Gaetz said that the Medicaid expansion fueled the opioid crisis.[59] PolitiFact rated the claim as "mostly false", noting that "experts were universal in saying that the evidence that Medicaid expansion is somehow fueling the opioid crisis doesn't exist."[59]


Gaetz opposes sanctuary cities, which opt not to dedicate local law enforcement resources to prosecuting people solely for being undocumented.[60] Upon announcing his run for Congress, Gaetz declared that illegal immigrants are "sucking us dry."[61] In January 2018 Gaetz defended an alleged controversial comment on Haiti by Trump, saying that the country was in a "disgusting" condition.[62]

In October 2018, Gaetz falsely claimed that George Soros paid for a caravan of migrants from Central America.[63]

Issues and controversiesEdit

In its July–August 2017 issue, Foreign Policy reported that Devin Murphy, a Gaetz legislative aide, had crowdsourced the amended contents of a resolution that Gaetz brought to the House Judiciary Committee which he had revised with content derived from /r/The Donald, "a pro-Trump subreddit notorious for both its embrace of conspiracy theories and its gleeful offensiveness." One of the allegations was that James Comey had leaked investigative matters to New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt beginning when Schmidt would have been around 10 years old.[64] Gaetz confirmed that the aide worked for him in an email to Wired magazine, adding, "It is the responsibility of our staff to gather as much information as possible when researching a subject and provide that information for consideration. We pride ourselves on seeking as much citizen input as possible."[65] The /r/The_Donald posters' suggestions are represented in "roughly two-thirds of the total finished amendment."[65]

In January 2018, Gaetz invited alt-right Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson to attend President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. Gaetz claimed that he has no "pre-existing" relationship with Johnson and only invited him to attend after Johnson showed up to his office. Gaetz offered Johnson an extra ticket he alleges his father could not use due to his bronchitis. Johnson has previously raised money for the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.[66] Johnson also helped to broker a meeting between the congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Julian Assange in 2017.[67]

In April 2018, Gaetz received backlash for his association with controversial political consultant Roger Stone. This friendship drew scrutiny after Stone made comments about the recent death of First Lady Barbara Bush. In an appearance on the conspiratorial site InfoWars, Stone called Bush a "mean-spirited, vindictive, drunk." Prior to the incident, Gaetz referred to Stone as "the brightest political mind in America" and posted a selfie with him on his personal Twitter account.[68]

Personal lifeEdit

Gaetz is the son of Florida politician Don Gaetz, who represented parts of Northwest Florida as a member of the Florida State Senate from 2006 to 2016 and served as Senate President from 2012 to 2014. Gaetz's grandfather, Jerry 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, where he died of a heart attack while his son watched television coverage of the event.[69]

Drunk driving and traffic violationsEdit

In 2008, Gaetz was arrested for a DUI as he was driving back from the Swamp, a nightclub on Okaloosa Island, Florida. While he was arrested and refused to take a breathalyzer test, "he didn't have his license suspended for a year when he refused the breath test—as Florida law dictates. And he didn't have that refusal used against him in a criminal proceeding." At the time of his arrest and consequent criminal proceedings, his father was serving as a local politician. The attorneys agreed to drop the case, despite the fact that the police reported that "Gaetz fumbled for his license and registration, his eyes were watery and bloodshot, and he swayed and staggered when he got out of the car," and Gaetz cited the dropped charges as proof that he was innocent.[70]

Between 1999 and 2014, Gaetz received 16 speeding tickets in Florida.[71]


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  67. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
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External linksEdit