Florida GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz appeared Thursday night on Fox News with his newly revealed “son,” 19-year-old Nestor Galban.
Both Gaetz and Galban took the opportunity to slam Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana for a heated exchange during a House Judiciary Committee meeting this week. During a markup of a policing reform bill, Gaetz and Richmond sparred after the Democrat suggested that Republicans don’t know what it’s like to worry about non-white children.
“You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do. Who the hell do you think you are?” Gaetz told Richmond during the exchange.
One day later, Gaetz claimed on Twitter that Nestor is his son — even though he has not formally adopted him, and he has previously referred to him in social media posts as a “helper,” a “House page,” and a “local student.”
“I believe everyone should be able to participate, if they are black, white or otherwise,” Gaetz told host Tucker Carlson. “It is certainly offensive to have someone tell you that you don’t know what a certain experience is like when they know nothing about you. Nestor is the light of my life. I couldn’t imagine loving him any more if he was my own flesh and blood. I have raised him for the last six years, and he is just the most remarkable young man.”
Galban defended Gaetz.
“I think it’s kind of unfair to tell someone that they don’t understand because of their racial color,” Galban said, calling Richmond a “hypocrite.”
Gaetz added: “I cannot believe that it’s acceptable in the United States Congress for someone to tell someone else that they are fighting for their children more than they are. So that’s why I got very upset. but for the sake of Nestor and my story, we’re a proud, happy family and we love each other very much, and Nestor’s on his way off to college in the fall, and I just couldn’t be happier and prouder of the young man he’s become, and the fact that he’s embracing these American values, that everyone should be treated fairly and equally.”
For what it’s worth, Gaetz receive a zero, the lowest possible score, on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent Congressional Scorecard, which measures support for LGBT equality. Gaetz recently claimed he couldn’t support the LGBT Equality Act because it might allow Donald Trump to declare himself the “first female president.”
Roll Call reports that as recently as last July, Gaetz’s staff identified the congressman as single with no children for a biographical data survey. Gaetz confirmed to People magazine he has not formally adopted Galban.
“Detractors said Gaetz had turned the teenager into a prop; others called it a dismissive slight-of-hand — like shrugging off accusations of prejudice by pointing to personal friendships with people of color,” People reported. “Many pointed to his views on immigration more broadly. In a characteristic slam, one user tweeted: ‘Matt Gaetz using Nestor to score political points or to show he is not racist is disgusting.’ In other corners of social media, conspiratorial theories began tangling together about Nestor’s biography and his biological relatives.”