Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s eyebrow-raising interview on Tucker Carlson Tuesday night — where he claimed sex trafficking allegations against him are nothing more than an elaborate, extortion attempt — wasn’t the first time he appeared on the show to discuss his personal life.
Last summer, the 38-year-old congressman went on the air to introduce his “son” Nestor Galban — a Cuban immigrant who moved in with him when he was 12 after his mother died of breast cancer, though has not been formally adopted.
“Nestor is the light of my life, I couldn’t imagine loving him anymore if he was my own flesh and blood,” Gaetz told the Fox News host at the time.
“I’ve raised him for the last six years and he is just the most remarkable young man, I am proud of him.”
The interview came after a viral showdown between Gaetz and Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) on the house floor where the Florida rep was accused of not understanding the dynamics of raising children of color as officials discussed a policing reform bill.
“You’ve never lived in my shoes, and you do not know what it’s like to be an African American male, and all I’m saying is if you are opposed to this legislation, let’s just have the vote, but please do not come in this committee room and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community,” Richmond said at the time.
Gaetz cut Richmond off and asked him if he was “certain that none of us have nonwhite children? Because you referenced your black son, and you said none of us could understand.”
Richmond told him to “stop” and said he wasn’t “about to get sidetracked about the color of our children.”
“It is not about the color of your kids. It is about black males, black people in the streets that are getting killed, and if one of them happens to be your kid, I’m concerned about him, too, and clearly, I’m more concerned about him than you are,” the Louisiana congressman said.
Gaetz, visibly angry, then yelled “You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do? Who in the hell do you think you are?”
The next morning, Gaetz took to Twitter to introduce Galban as his son and shared a selfie of the two together.
“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. I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life,” Gaetz wrote.
“As you can imagine, I was triggered when (to make an absurd debate point) a fellow congressman diminished the contributions of Republicans because we don’t raise nonwhite kids. Well, I have.”
Gaetz later told People magazine Galban is the younger brother of one of his ex-girlfriends who moved in with him when he left Cuba. The lawmaker said the 19-year-old has a biological father that at one point lived with Galban in Miami but declined to provide more details on their current relationship.
The story immediately drew skepticism because the congressman had never before claimed to have children and photos and videos emerged where Gaetz referred to Galban as a “local student” and a “helper” in years past, the outlet reported.
He said the secrecy was because Galban’s adjustment to life in America was difficult enough and he didn’t want to subject him to “politics.”
“He’s very eager to be identified as my son as publicly as people will accept it,” he told the mag.
The whereabouts of Galban’s biological father, and their relationship, remain unknown.
Born in Hollywood, Florida, outside of Ft. Lauderdale, Gaetz attended high school in the state’s panhandle and was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2016.
He has since successfully won reelection twice in 2018 and 2020 but is reportedly considering leaving his post early for a gig on the ultra-right television station Newsmax, Axios reported.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported Gaetz, who is engaged to a 26-year-old from California, is the subject of a federal probe over whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and enticed her to travel for sex, which is a violation of federal sex trafficking statutes.
He alleged to Carlson that a former Department of Justice official, David McGee, is attempting to shake his family down for $25 million by blackmailing him with “horrible sex trafficking allegations.” McGee denies the allegations.
Gaetz said he believes the information was leaked to The Times in an effort to end an ongoing FBI investigation into the alleged extortion plot that saw his father purportedly wear a wire to catch McGee in the act.
At the end of the interview, Carlson told viewers “that was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”
“I don’t think that clarified much, but it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story.”