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Rep. Matt Gaetz and the until-now unknown adopted son from Cuba

Paul V. Fontelo
Cq-Roll Call

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz revealed Thursday that he has an adopted son from Cuba, a previously unknown fact he kept largely hidden, including from organizations compiling biographical data on the lawmaker.

“For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life,” Gaetz tweeted with a photo. “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.”

Data compiled by CQ Roll Call – and previously confirmed by Gaetz’s office – has not listed Gaetz as having any children during his two terms in Congress or as a House candidate. As recently as July 2019, CQ Roll Call conducted biographical data checks and Gaetz’s staffers did not disclose Nestor Galban as Gaetz’s son when they were asked to confirm basic biographical information. Instead, his office confirmed that Gaetz was single with no children.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

Erin Gaetz, the congressman’s sister and founder of social media production company Southpaw, tweeted a number of photos of Nestor on Thursday with the Florida Republican and the Gaetz family. She also addressed the adoption on Twitter – saying that Gaetz had adopted Nestor when he was 12 years old. “He didn’t speak English, but luckily, Matt speaks Spanish,” she tweeted.

The acknowledgement by Rep. Gaetz comes in the wake of a heated exchange during Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee markup of the policing overhaul bill.

The debate took a personal tone when Rep. Cedric L. Richmond relayed his individual experiences with excessive police force and concerns over racial disparities.

“As a black male who went to the fifth best public high school in the country, who was a victim of excessive force, who has a black son, who has worries that you all don’t,” the Louisiana Democrat said. “You all are white males, you never lived in my shoes and you do not know what it’s like to be an African American male.”

Gaetz interjected, “Are you suggesting that none of us have nonwhite children?”

“Matt, Matt stop. I’m not about to get sidetracked by the color of our children,” Richmond told Gaetz. “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.”

“You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do. Who the hell do you think you are?” Gaetz responded.

After disclosing his son Nestor the following day, Gaetz suggested he wanted to clear the air of partisan rhetoric. “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,” he wrote.

“No parent on earth wouldn’t be furious if someone said they are more concerned for your family than you are,” he added.

Nestor, now 19, has made several appearances in Gaetz’s political life, but was not directly identified as his son.

In a December 2017 video, Gaetz describes Nestor as his “helper.” And in a Facebook post as far back as Gaetz’s tenure in the Florida House, Gaetz captioned a photo with Nestor as a local student and House page.

Nestor took to Twitter to defend his father Thursday, writing: “Matt is the best dad/mentor anyone could ever ask for, he has taught me a lot, and I’m thankful to have him in my life.”

He also acknowledged that he wanted to be kept out of the media spotlight in order to have “a normal life” but now he felt that at 19, he was old enough to handle it.

(Todd Ruger contributed to this report.)